Woman alleges Franken groped, kissed her without consent

Anita Tucker
November 17, 2017

Senator Al Franken meets with constituents at Minnesota Farmfest in Redwood County, Minnesota, US, August 6, 2014.

She also said that she didn't report the incident to anyone at the time because she didn't want to be the "troublemaker" on the United Service Organizations (USO) tour to entertain the troops in the Middle East they were on together.

In her essay, Tweeden said she meant to participate in the comedy tour, hosted by the United Service Organizations, as an emcee. Even if some of Tweeden's allegations were rebuttable, the photo she released of a leering Franken placing his hands on her breasts as she slept on the military transport plane at the end of the tour is probably a career-ender for him.

Franken has apologized to his accuser, broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, and said he would cooperate with an investigation.

"We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, [putting] his hand on the back of my head", she said, adding that she pushed Franken away feeling disgusted and violated. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed".

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"This is happening to women who have no power and no way to speak up", she said at a press conference.

Tweeden shared her story with her followers on social media and it quickly became a topic of conversation with users across Twitter. She also agreed with the majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who said that the ethics committee should evaluate the matter.

Franken, a well-known writer, comedian and Saturday Night Live staffer was not elected to the senate until 2009. "It isn't amusing. It's completely inappropriate", he said. "Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation". "I've realized that the disappointing responses women often face when they go public both embolden harassers and encourage victims to stay silent", he wrote. She added Franken should leave the Senate if the account is true.

"I'm telling my story because there may be others", she said. "I said something like, 'Relax Al, this isn't SNL ... we don't need to rehearse the kiss'".

"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", Franken said. Other senators, including Democratic senators Kristen Gillibrand and Tammy Duckworth, spoke out about the incident and supported an ethics investigation into Sen. "Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable - in the workplace or anywhere else", he said.

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