Danish foreign minister apologises for sleeping with 15-year-old girl in 2008

Ben Hamilton
September 18th, 2020

This article is more than 4 years old.

While there was nothing illegal about the encounter, Jeppe Kofod was 34 at the time and in a position of authority at the party of which the girl was a youth member

For many internationals living in Denmark, the news that the foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, slept with a 15-year-old girl in 2008 when he was 34 will initially be shocking. 

After all, the age-of-consent might be 15 in Denmark, but it is 16 in many countries. The age difference is also generally frowned upon. At the age of 34, popular wisdom suggests Kofod should have divided his age by two and added seven, and realised that 15 is a long way short of 24. 

And given his position of authority at the time as the Socialdemokratiet spokesperson for foreign affairs, there are strong grounds to claim this was a case of #MeToo – particularly as Denmark would appear to be having its moment almost three years after the Harvey Weinstein revelations exploded in October 2017.

You do realise we’ve seen ‘Borgen’!
But after digesting the facts, many internationals will start to realise the whole affair is beginning to look like an episode of ‘Borgen’. 

Birgitte Nyborg has nodded her head and Kasper Juul has had a word with his cronies in the media. An old story is revamped and pressure is mounting on a politician to resign – with Radikale and Alternativet both calling the PM’s decision to appoint him as foreign minister an “error of judgment”. 

It’s the same media that for three years have been downplaying #MeToo with the admonishment that ‘we don’t go into these kinds of things in Denmark’, in between non-condemnatory reports of Jørgen Leth sleeping with his Haitian housekeeper’s teenage daughter. He is after all a national treasure.

Apologising again
Kofod yesterday apologised again for his error of judgment in 2008, which took place after his participation as a lecturer at an event organised by DSU, the Socialdemokratiet youth association of which the 15-year-old was a member.

“I can also only repeat what I said in 2008: an unreserved apology for what happened. I wish I could change what happened. I cannot, but I can learn from it. And I have learned from it,” he said.

The difference, of course, is that Kofod resigned from his post in 2008.


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