Denmark's Social Democrat Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has apologised for having sex with a 15-year-old member of the party's youth organisation (DSU) during an Easter course in 2008.
“I was drunk, and I was stupid,” Kofod admitted to TV2. “I know very well that it's not enough to say sorry. I wish I could change that. The only thing I can do is regret it,” he said.
According to TV 2, Kofod previously said that he did not know the girl and her age when he invited her up to his room after the lecture he had given.
Twelve years ago, then-34-year-old Kofod resigned from all political positions, including his role as Social Democrats foreign policy spokesman. However, he made a political comeback shortly thereafter and became the lead candidate for the Social Democrats in the 2014 European parliament election. In 2019, Kofod became foreign minister in the Mette Frederiksen cabinet.
The case resurfaced again amid the #Metoo movement against harassment and sexual abuse, which placed Kofod under renewed criticism from Danish parties such as the Alternative and the Social Liberals. The leader of the Alternative, Josephine Fock, said it was “poor judgement” on the part of Mette Frederiksen to appoint Kofod as foreign minister. The Social Liberals equality spokeswoman Samira Nawa said that Kofod's apology is worthless.
“This has never been about extracting another apology out of the minister. It has been about breaking down taboos about sexism, daring to talk about the issues that hurt, and making it clear where our boundaries go. And that showdown is still just as relevant,” Nawa said.
Kofod replied that it is an old case, which was known before he became foreign minister. But he acknowledged that it will continue to haunt his political career.
“It was the biggest mistake of my life, and I apologised then. It is a matter I think about daily, and I wish I could change it,” Kofod said.
In Denmark, the age of consent is 15. Thus, Kofod did not break the law.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the case serious, but emphasised that her confidence in Kofod remains firm.
“I have confidence in the ministers who have been appointed in Denmark. Jeppe Kofod has both apologised and expressed regret,” Fredriksen said.
The Mette Frederiksen Cabinet is a minority government comprised of the Social Democrats. It relies heavily on parliamentary support from fellow left-of-the-centre parties, such as the Red-Green Alliance, the Socialist People's Party, and the Social Liberal Party.
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