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Lefty Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2006
November 16, 2017

The photo of Al Franken posted on radio newscaster's Twitter feed. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Chronicle staff

(NATIONAL) -- The groping, inappropriate sexual behavior story that's been dragging Alabama's Roy Moore further into the political mud and jeopardizing his election prospects has now visited itself upon Democratic Senator Al Franken's doorstep.

The New York Times reported Thursday that a radio newscaster had accused Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota and former "Saturday Night Live" writer-actor, of kissing and groping her without consent during a 2006 U.S.O. tour of the Middle East.

The alleged event occurred before Franken took public office. Leeann Tweeden, the newscaster said Franken forcibly kissed her during a rehearsal for a show and groped her for a photo as she was sleeping.

Tweeden describes herself on her Twitter page as "Wife, Mom, Sportscaster, Model, TV Host, News Anchor on "McIntyre in the Morning", 790 KABC. 5-10am PST M-F." She posted the allegation and a photo of a younger Al Franken - smiling for a camera as he appears to be groping at the chest of a sleeping woman dressed in military camouflage clothing and wearing a helmet - on her Twitter feed just before 7:00 am Pacific Standard Time Thursday.

Franken released a statement saying, “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.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already forwarded the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee saying in a statement, “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Later in the day Franklin issued another statement and this one called for an ethics investigation into his own behavior saying, “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.”

That second statement came after Franken was criticized by some people who said his first statement didn't represent a real apology. “The first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry,” he wrote in the new statement.

Franken's full statement is below:

“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.”



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