Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has responded to 18-year-old groping allegations, saying he "apologized in the moment" but doesn't believe he did anything wrong. The Washington Post reported that he was "smiling and nodding" as he answered the question.
As the statement was released Friday Trudeau was making a media appearance in Calgary, where reporters asked him to react to the woman standing by the allegation.
The editorial, which wasn't signed, accused Mr. Trudeau of "groping" a young female reporter and said Mr. Trudeau had apologized for his behavior that day after learning the reporter was also writing for another newspaper with a larger circulation.
Speaking on Thursday, Trudeau admitted he had apologized to a newspaper reporter after an incident at a music festival in British Columbia 18 years ago. "The debate, if it continues, will continue without my involvement", she wrote.
The Canadian Press has made efforts to speak to the other person involved in the alleged 2000 incident in Creston, B.C., but those efforts have so far been unsuccessful. I would never presume to speak for her.
"I do not feel that there was any inappropriate action of any type", Trudeau said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s Toronto radio station.
The editorial, published shortly afterward, said Trudeau had engaged in "inappropriately handling" of one of its two reporters during the event. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context, can experience it differently. "I have had no subsequent contact with Trudeau, before or after he became prime minister".
After the prime minister's remarks, she expressed skepticism to the Post.
Trudeau first commented personally on the allegation on Sunday and has been asked questions about it throughout the week. The editorial did not provide any details, but said Trudeau "blatantly disrespected" the reporter.
Trudeau, a 28-year-old teacher at the time, told the outlet he was "confident" that nothing transpired.
Trudeau's office had previously provided a one-paragraph statement on the incident that said he did not recall any "negative interactions".
"I've been reflecting on the actual interaction and if I apologized later, then it would be because I sensed that she was not entirely comfortable with the interaction that we had", Trudeau told reporters Thursday.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member. "I respect very much her right and her ability to make choices about what is best for her and her family and I obviously will continue to stand as a defender of understanding and respect for individuals and the experiences they go through".