A radio and television host has come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken of groping and kissing her without her consent in 2006 and she has the evidence to prove it.
Leeann Tweeden, a former model and actress and now a radio anchor and in Los Angeles says Franken made lewd gestures at her during a USO tour in December 2006. She also says Franken kissed her forcibly while they were performing for troops during the tour.
Tweeden published a personal essay Thursday morning to TalkRadio 798 KABC in Los Angeles where she is a morning news anchor on the program.
In her personal story, she retells the story of Franken forcing her to kiss him and later groping her breasts in a photo.
Tweeden included the photograph of Franken, then a comedian, looking directly into the camera while apparently groping her breasts while her she was asleep.
Tweeden says she found out about the photo after she returned to the U.S.
“It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one,” she wrote in the essay. “I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” she adds.
During the tour, Tweeden was the emcee during the show, where she would introduce the next acts to the stage. Franken modified the script to include a part where he kisses her. In her story, she says she "suspected what he was after" but at the time she felt she could turn her head away or cover her mouth to make the skit funnier. Tweeden also says they were backstage rehearsing their lines and Franken insisted they "practice" the kissing scene. When it was time for the show, Tweeden said Franken "aggressively stuck his tongue" in her mouth.
Franken later issued a full statement Thursday afternoon regarding the allegations saying his intentions were to be funny at the time.
Al Franken issues statement and apology for sexual misconduct
"I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny, but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it," he said. Tweeden's comments come after several women have recently come forward to accuse men of sexual misconduct and lewd behavior including Republican Senate candidate in Alabama Roy Moore and film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Franken later issued a full statement on Thursday to address the allegations. "The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry.
"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.
"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories.
They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."