The Harvey Weinstein scandal has inspired a Ben Affleck scandal

By Constance Grady

The scandal that has destroyed the reputation of Hollywood mega mogul Harvey Weinstein appears to be widening its scope to the point that it might take down actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck, too.

Affleck, like other prominent figures in Hollywood, has publicly denounced Weinstein, declaring himself “angry and saddened” at the allegations that Weinstein has harassed and assaulted multiple women throughout his career, and saying that reading details of the accusations “made him sick.”

But in speaking out against him, Affleck — a close colleague and protégé of Weinstein’s — seems to have only inspired people to share accounts of the harassment he has allegedly committed himself. Multiple women have come forward with accounts of harassment from Affleck, both on- and off-camera, as well as stories they say prove he has been complicit in other men’s harassment of women.

As Anna North wrote here at Vox, when one woman comes forward with a story of sexual assault, she inspires a domino effect: More women feel that it is safe to come forward with their own stories, so what started out as a case built around Ashley Judd and a few other women saying on the record that Weinstein harassed them became a case with dozens of accusers.

And the domino effect can work between cases, too. Multiple sources have said that women began to speak out against Weinstein because they saw what happened to Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby when women joined together to share their stories. Now, the domino effect seems to have spread from Weinstein to Affleck.

What remains to be seen is whether it will do more than cause a temporary scandal, and whether it will ever lead to actual consequences with measurable, lasting effects.

Affleck’s past includes a lot of time spent around men facing sexual harassment accusations, and a lot of time on camera groping women

One reason that Affleck has become something of a secondary target as fallout from the Weinstein scandal spreads is that he spent much of the last year helping his brother Casey Affleck successfully campaign for an Oscar, even as the story emerged that Casey had faced two sexual harassment lawsuits in the past. Ben appeared at parties and premieres with Casey in what looked like an attempt to whip up support for Casey’s Best Actor run, and he certainly never made a public statement condemning Casey’s alleged sexual harassment — a fact that many observers were quick to point out when he made a statement condemning Weinstein.


— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 10, 2017

how’s your brother doing https://t.co/KRIjzRtC53

— pilot (@pilotbacon) October 10, 2017

It also doesn’t help Affleck that he’s spent his own career so close to Weinstein. Weinstein produced Affleck’s breakout movie, 1997’s Good Will Hunting, and they’ve collaborated multiple times since then. While Affleck has been publicly ambivalent about their relationship — “They’re a nightmare to make a deal with,” he told Vanity Fair in 2004 of Miramax, Weinstein’s film studio at the time — Affleck and Weinstein continued to work together on projects like Shakespeare in Love and Jersey Girl. And according to actress Rose McGowan, who has heavily implied that Weinstein raped her without actually naming him, Affleck knew exactly what Weinstein was allegedly up to with the women he surrounded himself with.

Ben Affleck fuck off

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017

You want to play let’s play #ROSEARMY pic.twitter.com/uqd26Z78gc

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017

So Affleck has a history of appearing to support men who have been accused of committing sexual assault, a history that is fresh in the public’s mind. And it seems to have prompted multiple people to remember that Affleck also has a history of publicly groping women under the cover of frat-boy humor. Most infamously, he is said to have groped the breasts of One Tree Hill actress Hilarie Burton when they appeared on MTV’s TRL together in 2003.

I didn’t forget.

— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) October 10, 2017

In the segment, Affleck (who was 31 at the time) wraps his arm around Burton (then 21) and slides his hand down and out of the frame, apparently tweaking her breast, while Burton laughs uncomfortably. “That’s a move,” he tells the camera nonchalantly.

The episode cuts to a talking head confessional. “Some girls like a good tweakage here and there,” Burton says. “I’d rather have a high five.”

“I was a kid,” she wrote on Twitter this week, adding, “I had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry.”

“I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize,” Affleck responded on Twitter.

In another video that resurfaced this week, Affleck pulls interviewer Anne-Marie Losique onto his lap and comments on her breasts while filming a 2004 segment for the Canadian TV series Box-Office. “Everything you know about Affleck is wrong,” says the summary for the video on YouTube, apparently uploaded by an independent party in 2006.

“They would like it better if you did the show topless, the station, wouldn’t they?” he says, appearing to hold Losique down on his lap as she squirms. “You usually show a lot more cleavage than this,” he adds. “What’s the story? Why are you covering it up today?”

“It’s Sunday morning,” Losique says, laughing.

“That never stopped you before from getting them titties out,” Affleck says, smirking. He pulls her in tighter and hugs her. “These breasts are very firm, suspiciously firm, I have to say.”

In an interview this week, Losique told the Hollywood Reporter she was not uncomfortable with Affleck’s behavior. “This was for the camera,” she said. “You have to understand that we have done dozens and dozens of interviews like that. It was for a show I was producing, so I was not at all a victim. When the cameras rolled, we would start to do …read more

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