The prime minister of Canada is facing renewed public backlash over allegations that he groped a woman at a fundraising event nearly two decades ago.
Though his accuser wished to remain anonymous at the time she initially shared her story in the Creston Valley Advance, the former reporter has spoken out publicly this week due to what she described as “mounting media pressure.”
According to CNN, an unsigned 2000 editorial vaguely described inappropriate actions by Justin Trudeau, then 28 and not personally involved in politics, at a music festival to raise money for a cause related to avalanche safety.
That account began to circulate widely online after Warren Kinsella, a Canadian political pundit, shared an image of the editorial — accompanied by a #MeToo hashtag — on Twitter in June.
Justin Trudeau has addressed Rose Knight’s claims in recent days, saying on Sunday that he has no recollection of “any negative interactions that day at all.”
Several days later, he acknowledged that he apologized to the reporter at the time, though he continued to maintain his innocence.
“I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way,” he said on Thursday. “But I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently and this is part of the reflections that we have to go through.”
Numerous critics have lambasted the self-described feminist in recent days for his alleged behavior in 2000.
Justin Trudeau gropes reporter.
Then gives us a homework assignment to reflect upon our behaviour and our different perceptions as men and women.
Thanks but we're busy. You know, with not groping reporters.
— Stephen Taylor (@stephen_taylor) July 6, 2018
Knight, however, said she had no interest in rehashing the past and considered the matter closed.
She “reluctantly” issued the public statement to confirm that the incident “did occur, as reported” and that Trudeau “did apologize the next day.”
Beyond that, she said that she has not had any contact with Trudeau since and never pursued the matter beyond penning the anonymous editorial.
“I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago,” she wrote. “I avoided issuing a statement earlier out of concern for my and my family’s privacy. Beyond this statement I will not be providing any further details or information.”
Valerie Bourne, the newspaper’s publisher at the time that Knight’s editorial was published, confirmed that she spoke to the reporter about the incident.
She said she would not classify the behavior described to her as sexual assault, but added that it was “definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate.”
Trudeau issued a subsequent statement on Friday in light of the new information.
“I think there is an awakening going on right now and I think it’s a good thing but it also requires all of us to be having difficult conversations, difficult reflections and model the kind of responsibilities and reflections that we have to have moving forward,” he said.
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