Yesterday, Ben Affleck joined the growing chorus of celebrities condemning disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, who multiple women have accused of sexual assault and harassment dating back years. “This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others,” Affleck wrote in a statement.
Not everyone was happy to hear from him. “You lie,” replied actress Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s accusers, who subsequently said she’d told Affleck about the producer’s alleged misconduct. Twitter user @ShaniceBrim remembered something else. “He also grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on TRL once. Everyone forgot though,” she wrote, prompting a reply from Burton, an actress and former host of the MTV countdown show:
I didn’t forget.
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) October 10, 2017
Seriously, thank you for that. I was a kid.
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) October 11, 2017
On Wednesday, Affleck followed up with an apology.
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 11, 2017
The alleged groping was captured on TRL and has since been uploaded to YouTube. “Yeah, he pulled that move,” Burton says in the clip. “That’s his move, yeah,” Affleck replies. Burton is also seen recalling the incident in a recap interview, where she says, “And he wraps his arm around me and comes over and tweaks my left boob. … I’m just like, what are you doing?”
The exact date of the episode remains unclear. It’s widely reported to date to a February 13, 2003 episode featuring both Burton and Affleck (pictured in the lead image), but there’s better evidence it was part of a May 24, 2001 segment in which Burton interviewed Affleck and other cast members from the film Pearl Harbor on location in Hawaii. In May 2001, Affleck would have been 28 and Burton 18. That timeline could explain another old video clip, which Burton herself posted on Twitter: A trailer for a TRL Uncensored special, which includes footage of Affleck asking, “How old are you, 19?”
“I’m so impressed with you brave ones. I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry,” the modern-day Burton captioned the trailer.
The TRL flashback follows another old, resurfaced Affleck clip from 2004, in which he holds interviewer Annie-Marie Losique on his lap and tells her, “They would like the show better if you did it topless, wouldn’t they? … You should be in church with that rack on display.” (An update, as of 5:30 p.m. ET: Losique told THR the interview was a performance “for the camera” that “has been blown out of proportion.” Affleck “never touched me in any improper way,” she said.)