Update: Woman groped by Al Franken accepts his apology - Bring Me The News

Update: Woman groped by Al Franken accepts his apology

Franken called for an ethics investigation into himself.
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Update 4:30 p.m: The woman who accused Sen. Al Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her has accepted his apology.

Leeann Tweeden detailed her allegations against Franken in a blog post on Thursday morning, saying she was kissed by him against her will at a USO show in 2006, and shared a picture of him making to grope her breasts as she slept.

On Thursday afternoon, she accepted the apology issued by the Minnesota senator (which you can read below).

"The apology, sure I accept it, yes. People make mistakes and of course he knew he made a mistake," Tweeden said, according to The Hill. "So yes I do accept that apology. There's no reason why I shouldn't accept his apology."

Franken himself has joined calls for a Senate ethics investigation into his actions amid pressure for him to resign his position, but Tweeden said she isn't joining those who say he should resign.

"People make mistakes. I’m not calling for him to step down. That’s not my place to say that," Tweeden said. 

Earlier story

Sen. Al Franken is more thoroughly responding to a radio host's allegations that he forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO rehearsal, then later groped her breasts over a flak vest.

Leeann Tweeden, an anchor for TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, published a blog post detailing the allegations Thursday morning. Franken initially issued a short statement apologizing, but later put out a much longer response through a spokesperson.

In it, the Democrat apologizes again to Tweeden for his behavior.

He also called for an ethics investigation into himself – something colleagues including Democratic Sen. Kirtsen Gillibrand and Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell publicly suggested should be taken up. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a statement also said the Senate Ethics Committee should open an investigation, condemned Franken's behavior, and cited it as "another example of why we need to change work environments and reporting practices across the nation, including in Congress.”

Franken said he will "gladly cooperate" in an ethics investigation.

Writers and commentators, as well as Minnesota GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan, have been among those suggesting he resign, a suggestion he did not address in the longer statement.

We've included the full statement from Franken at the bottom of this post.

'I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter'

Franken reiterated one thing from his initial response – Tweeden's story of the skit rehearsal, in which she says Franken was insistent they practice a kiss, didn't happen as he remembers it.

"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," he said.

The photo Franken addressed further, saying in part:

"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."

He also apologized for taking so long to understand the impact some of his jokes – which he once thought were funny, but in hindsight clearly aren't.

And he finished by saying what people think of him 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.”

Franken has been a vocal advocate for sexual assault and abuse survivors. He recently helped push for a new bill to better help survivors, and has called sexual harassment and violence "unacceptable."

During his run for Senate in the '08 elections, he faced criticism for a joke suggestion he told in the Saturday Night Live writers room in '95, in which he commented about giving reporter Lesly Stahl pills and raping her.

In his book, Franken acknowledges it was dark, inappropriate, and never meant for air – but argues it was a suggestion for a "turn," a place the skit could go. The final draft wound up with 60 Minutes' Andy Rooney saying he drugged colleague Mike Wallace and photographed him in compromising positions.

65 percent of woman have said they'd been harassed in public

The #MeToo movement has turned into a powerful sharing tool for men and women who have been harassed, with the October allegations against film exec Harvey Weinstein sparking its rise.

Since then, other big names have been accused. NBC News has an updated list.

A 2015 survey by Cosmopolitan found 1 in 3 women between the ages of 18-34 had been sexually harassed at work.

And not everyone reports it. Many don't because they're scared of losing their job or hurting their career, or because they don't think anyone will believe them, the National Women's Law Center says.

The group Stop Street Harassment did a national survey in 2014 and found 65 percent of all women had been harassed in public in some way – it could be leering or whistling, or making lewd comments; or even more egregious behavior, like being groped or blocked from going somewhere.

Franken's full statement

“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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