A former Canadian news reporter claimed Friday to be the woman who anonymously accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of groping her prior to his career in politics, breaking her silence for the first time since the allegation resurfaced nearly two decades after first appearing in an unsigned newspaper editorial.
Rose Knight, a former reporter for British Columbia’s Creston Valley Advance, said she was author of the article, identifying herself as the woman who wrote that she had been “blatantly disrespected” by the then-future prime minister while covering a music festival in 2000.
“I did not pursue the incident at the time and will not be pursuing the incident further. I have had no subsequent contact with Mr. Trudeau, before or after he became Prime Minister,” Ms. Knight said in a statement, CBC reported.
Eighteen years after its publication, Ms. Knight said had decided to “reluctanctly” address the article “in response to mounting media pressure,” CBC reported.
“I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago,” she said in the statement. “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. The debate, if it continues, will continue without my involvement.”
The original editorial claimed that the incident occurred while Mr. Trudeau, then 28, was in town for a fundraiser for the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign, an organization formed after his brother, Michel, died in an avalanche, and that the future prime minister had apologized afterwards for “handling” her inappropriately.
“I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward,” Mr. Trudeau reportedly said at the time, according to the editorial.
The allegation resurfaced recently after Canadian political commentator Warren Kinsella tweeted a picture of the editorial last month and used the #MeToo hashtag.
“I’m confident I didn’t act inappropriately, but I think the essence of this is people can experience interactions differently and part of the lesson we need to learn in this moment of collective awakening … people in many cases, women, experience interactions in professional contexts and other contexts differently than men,” Mr. Trudeau said Friday.
“I apologized in the moment because I had obviously perceived that she had experienced it in a different way than I acted or I experienced it.”
Valerie Bourne, former publisher of the Advance, told CBC that she would not classify the incident as “sexual assault,” but that it was “definitely not welcome and definitely inappropriate.”
“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it. She didn’t like what had happened. She wasn’t sure how she should proceed with it because of course we’re talking somebody who was known to the Canadian community,” Ms. Bourne.
Mr. Trudeau, 46, has served as prime minister since 2015. His father, Pierre Trudeau, served as prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.
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