As the list of Hollywood stars who have publicly condemned Harvey Weinstein for his alleged sexually predatory behaviour continues to grow, Ben Affleck has been forced to come forward and apologise for groping an MTV presenter on air in 2003.
One Twitter user recalled how Affleck “grabbed Hilarie Burton's breasts on TRL once” but “everyone forgot that, though”.
TRL is shorthand for Total Request Live, a music video show.
Within moments, Burton herself replied: “I didn't forget.”
The original Twitter user, spotting Burton’s comment in her feed, reached out to Burton to apologise for what happened to her.
“I’m so sorry,” she wrote, “[and] it’s infuriating that people never bring up the gross, predatory things he’s done.”
Touched by the message, Burton replied: “Seriously, thank you for that. I was a kid.”
Burton later shared a clip of the moment from TRL Uncensored, revealing how Affleck had put his arm around her and proceeded to “tweak my left boob”.
“Some girls like a good tweakage here and there,” she said on the programme. “I’d rather have a high five.”
“I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry,” Burton explained on social media.
Affleck has since expressed regret for the incident on his own Twitter account, writing: “I acted inappropriately towards Ms. Burton, and I sincerely apologise.”
However, some people have criticised the Hollywood star for his “lacklustre” statement, insisting that it’s “not enough”.
“You waited until some tweet mentioned it and THEN apologised?” wrote one.
“Only took him 14 years,” added another.
Affleck made his apology a day after posting a message about how “saddened and angry” he felt about Hollywood producer Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment and assaults.
“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades,” he said.
“The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick.
“This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn't happen to others. We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters.
“We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behaviour when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”
However, Rose McGowan – who came to a financial settlement with Weinstein in 1997 over an undetailed incident – has branded Affleck a liar, and posted several tweets encouraging her followers to sign a petition to dissolve the board of The Weinstein Company, which she alleges had knowledge of Weinstein’s behaviour.
McGowan also tweeted support of her fellow accusers and of Ronan Farrow, who authored the explosive recent New Yorker article, which revealed further alleged assaults committed by Weinstein after the original piece by The New York Times seemingly opened the floodgates.
Shortly after sharing her outrage, McGowan’s Twitter account was suspended.
“There are powerful forces at work,” she informed her fans on Instagram, along with a screenshot of the suspension notice. “Be my voice.”
Twitter provided no specific instances of her rule violation, but stated that she can delete the tweets that violate its rules to gain access to her account more quickly.
Images: Rex Features