Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's comments on the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal have opened up a possible Rodrigo Duterte sexual abuse scandal. In a speech Saturday, the controversial leader recounted how he had molested a housemaid as a teenager after sneaking into her room, the BBC reports. "I lifted the blanket," Duterte said. "I tried to touch what was inside the panties. I was touching. She woke up. So I left the room." The 73-year-old said he confessed the abuse to a Catholic priest, who told him to "say five Hail Marys because you will go to hell." Critics, including the women's rights group Gabriela, called Duterte a "maniac" and said he should resign.
Duterte has made numerous offensive remarks about women—in 2016, he joked that he "should have been first" when an Australian missionary was raped during a prison riot—but this appears to be the first time he has admitted sexual assault, the New York Times reports. A Duterte spokesman later claimed he had "made up" the story. Political analyst Richard Javad Heydarian tells the Times that Duterte, who has been strongly criticized by the Catholic church over a drug crackdown believed to have killed 20,000 people, tends to make outrageous remarks to distract the media from other issues. Duterte "has a penchant for pushing the envelope without any notion of rhetorical self restraint, not even during the holidays," he says. (Earlier in 2018, Duterte boasted about an order to shoot women in the vagina and declared that God is "stupid.")