The woman who accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of groping her at a music festival almost two decades ago has identified herself.
Rose Knight issued a statement Friday, according to the Associated Press, that confirms she was the young reporter who accused Trudeau, then a 28-year-old teacher, of groping her as she tried to interview him at the Kokanee Summit Festival in 2000.
Trudeau denied the allegations, which were first published 18 years ago in an unsigned editorial published in the Creston Valley Advance, when they were unearthed earlier this summer. He said he did not remember anything like that happening at the time, a position he echoed after Knight released her statement Friday.
But the old editorial claims that Trudeau apologized for the alleged groping, and quotes him as saying, “If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” Knight also maintains in the new statement that Trudeau apologized to her at the time, according to AP.
Nonetheless, Knight said in the statement that she plans to leave the alleged incident in the past, AP reports. “I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago,” she said. “I avoided issuing a statement earlier out of concern for my and my family’s privacy.”
The allegations resurfaced in early June when a picture of the editorial was tweeted out by Warren Kinsella, a critic of the Prime Minister. The tweet included the #MeToo hashtag.
Trudeau was at the festival in 2000 to raise money for the Avalanche Foundation, because his younger brother was killed in an avalanche in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in 1998, according to the National Post, Canada’s conservative-leaning news outlet.
Multiple people who worked at the Creston Valley Advance when the alleged “inappropriate handling” occurred confirmed that the young woman, later identified as Knight, came to them with the allegation about Trudeau.
“My recollections of the conversation were that she came to me because she was unsettled by it,” Valerie Bourne, the newspaper’s publisher at the time, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “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.”
Brian Bell, the Advance editor at the time, also confirmed the reporter spoke to him about it, saying “whatever physical touch or whatever had occurred in that moment was definitely 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,” he told the CBC.
While at an event on July 1 in British Columbia for steel and aluminum workers — part of Trudeau’s three-city Canada Day tour — reporters started to ask the prime minister questions about the alleged 18-year-old incident and he said did not remember it taking place.
“I remember that day in Creston well,” Trudeau said, according to video posted by a journalist for local radio station CJME. “It was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety. I had a good day that day. I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”
A spokesman for Trudeau, Matt Pascuzzo, elaborated the denial to the Washington Post saying, “As the PM has said before, he has always been very careful to treat everyone with respect.”
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