“I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry,” the TV star now says about an incident with Affleck from 2003.
As more and more women continue to come forward with accusations against disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, other stories of sexual assault allegations have also bubbled to the surface. On Wednesday, actress Hilarie Burton renewed a past claim that Ben Affleck had groped her breast during a visit to MTV’s TRL, which she was hosting in 2003.
Affleck was one of a handful of male Hollywood collaborators to first speak out against Weinstein. In a statement Tuesday, Affleck said, in part: “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. The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick.”
Amid accusations that Weinstein, who has now been accused of raping three women, among a slew of other disturbing sexual assault claims, and his behavior was a well-kept secret in Hollywood, many actresses called on the men of Hollywood to speak up after the New York Timesexposé first broke last Thursday, and then again with The New Yorker report on Tuesday. Rose McGowan, who was named in the Times story for settling a lawsuit against Weinstein, quickly took issue with Affleck’s statement. “You lie,” she tweeted among a series of posts that took aim at the “A-list golden boys” of Hollywood who, she claims, have long kept quiet about Weinstein’s alleged transgressions.
Other users on Twitter echoed McGowan’s sentiments and one recalled Burton’s 2003 on-camera interview with Affleck. “He also grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on TRL once. Everyone forgot though,” read the tweet. The post prompted a reply from the former One Tree Hill star and MTV VJ.
“I didn’t forget,” Burton wrote.
When the fan told her, “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” Burton replied, “Seriously, thank you for that. I was a kid.”
The actress, who is currently starring on Fox’s Lethal Weapon reboot and expecting her second child with The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, then shared a video of her discussing the alleged groping on TRL: Uncensored amid a compilation on show outtakes. (The video was pulled shortly after this story published.)
In the footage, a young Burton is seen laughing about the incident as she recalls how the A-list movie star came over during an interview and “tweaked” her breast. A clip of their sit-down shows Affleck telling her, “It’s so nice to see you!” and walking over to give her a hug. “And he wraps his arm around me and comes over and tweaks my left boob!” she recalls. Later, Affleck asks Burton, “What are you, 19?”
The flashback footage is followed by Burton, who is now 35 and 10 years younger than Affleck, shrugging it off to the camera: “Some girls like a good tweakage here and there, I’d rather have a high-five.”
Burton resurfaced the video on Twitter with a callout to the women who are coming forward with their stories of sexual assault, and reflected on her own handling of the situation in the moment.
“Girls. I’m so impressed with you brave ones. I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry. Sending love,” she wrote.
Affleck wrote on Twitter in response to the claim: “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”