UPDATED: Justin Trudeau acknowledged that he apologized to the reporter that accused him of groping her 18 years ago, according to The Globe and Mail. "I’m responsible for my side of the interaction, which certainly, as I said, I don’t feel was in any way untoward,” he said at a news conference. “But at the same time, this lesson that we are learning—and I’ll be blunt about it—often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context, can experience it differently.”
While Trudeau did not provide further details, he linked the incident to the #MeToo movement. “But part of this awakening that we are having as a society—a long-awaited realization—is that it’s not just one side of the story that matters,” he said. Trudeau and his team reportedly have not reached out to the reporter and don't think doing so would be appropriate.
Justin Trudeau’s squeaky-clean image came under scrutiny last month after allegations that he groped a reporter back in 2000 resurfaced.
The accusations first appeared in the British Colombia paper the Creston Valley Advance, in an editorial published 18 years ago. The then-28-year-old Trudeau was identified as the son of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, making him a well-known public figure.
According to the unsigned-editorial, Trudeau apologized to the reporter for the encounter. “I’m sorry. If I had known you were a reporter for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” he reportedly told her back then. No further details regarding the incident, which only referred to inappropriate 'handling,' were mentioned in the editorial.
According to The Guardian, Trudeau responded to the allegations for the first time on Sunday, telling reporters, “I remember that day in Creston well,” and adding, “I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
Valerie Bourne and Brian Bell, the former publisher and editor of the Creston Valley Advance, have also reacted to the news. “My recollections of the conversations were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it,” Bourne told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Bell added that the anonymous reporter was honest and called Trudeau's alleged actions “not welcome and definitely inappropriate."
“I certainly believe that it happened; this reporter was of a high character in my opinion and was professional in the way she conducted herself, and there’s no question in my mind that what was alluded to, written about in that editorial, did happen,” Bell said.
The CBC reports that the anonymous reporter no longer wished to be associated with the incident, and asked that her name be left out of further reports.