Two of the biggest celebrities most closely associated with Harvey Weinstein, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, took a conspicuously long time to publicly condemn their long-time industry colleague. Damon's condemnation came amid accusations that he had helped bury a negative New York Times story about Weinstein back in 2004. Affleck's carefully worded statement on Tuesday was immediately slammed by actress Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein's alleged victims, and then followed by an accusation that Affleck himself was guilty of "groping" actress Hilarie Burton back in 2003.
In a statement Tuesday morning, Affleck, who has known Weinstein since he and Damon got their big break in Good Will Hunting in 1997, wrote, "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."
McGowan, who has been revealed to be one of the women who reached a settlement with Weinstein over alleged sexual misconduct, torched Affleck for the response, accusing him of blatantly lying about what he knew about the mega producer.
"Ben Affleck f--- off," she tweeted in response to his statement. "@benaffleck 'GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT' you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie."
The Daily Beast notes that Affleck and McGowan "co-starred in the 1998 film Phantoms, which was distributed by Weinstein’s Miramax and released a year after an alleged episode between Weinstein and McGowan at a Sundance hotel room resulted in a $100,000 payout to McGowan."
The outlet highlights that after McGowan's initial response, a follower slammed Affleck for his alleged hypocrisy, saying he'd "grabbed Hilarie Burton’s breasts on [MTV's Total Request Live] once. Everyone forgot though."
Burton herself responded to that allegation, saying, "I didn't forget."
The actress followed up the statement by saying, "I was just a kid."
On Wednesday, Affleck responded to the accusation by apologizing for acting "inappropriately."
"I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize," Affleck tweeted.
The New York Times has since followed up with McGowan to "confirm that she was asserting that Mr. Affleck knew about Mr. Weinstein’s mistreatment of her because she had told him, and that she was accusing Mr. Affleck of lying because his statement did not acknowledge awareness of Mr. Weinstein’s behavior," and the actress responded, "I am saying exactly that."
Since the Weinstein story first broke on Thursday, McGowan has been increasingly vocal, apparently finally feeling that she can speak openly about it. Here's one tweet that highlights Damon and Affleck's responses and another that condemns all the "liars" in Hollywood pretending that they didn't know about Weinstein's abuses:
UPDATES: After Affleck apologized to Burton, another woman, makeup artist Annamarie Tendler, accused him online of having groped her at a Golden Globes party in 2014.
"I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck who grabbed my ass at a Golden Globes party in 2014," tweeted Tendler on Wednesday. "He walked by me, cupped my butt and pressed his finger into my crack," she added. "I guess he tried to play it like he was politely moving me out of the way and oops touched my butt instead of my lower back? Like most women in these situations I didn't say anything but I have thought a lot about what I'd say if I ever saw him again."
To make matters worse, with public pressure mounting on Affleck, a backstage video from 2004 showing the actor crossing the line with Box Office host Anne-Marie Losique has also gone viral online.