Al Franken Accused of Forcibly Kissing, Groping Broadcaster Leeann Tweeden
Senator Al Franken discusses politics at a SiriusXM Town Hall on May 31, 2017 in New York City.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has been accused by broadcaster Leeann Tweeden of kissing her without her consent and groping her while she was asleep.
On Thursday—stating that "I've decided it's time to tell my story" and using the hashtag #MeToo that others who have endured sexual harassment and assault have also used to publicize their traumatic encounters—Tweeden sent out a link on Twitter to a blog post she wrote on KABC's website (Tweeden currently works as a news anchor for the Los Angeles radio station) in which she details her allegations. The post and Tweeden's tweet also feature a photo appearing to show Franken grabbing her breasts while she slept.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
According to the former model, the incident took place in December 2006, before Franken became a senator, during a USO tour in the Middle East. Franken was on the tour as a comedian, and at one time a writer/performer for Saturday Night Live.
Tweeden says Franken had written a skit for their USO show in which his character comes at her for a kiss, and that Franken insisted on "rehearsing" that kiss, making her uncomfortable. When she agreed "so he would stop badgering me," Tweeden writes, "he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth."
She pushed him away, but "felt disgusted and violated."
Tweeden says Franken's harrassment did not stop there. When she returned from the USO trip, she looked at the photos taken during the tour and saw the one she tweeted out today—Franken groping her breasts as she slept.
"I felt violated all over again," Tweeden writes in the blog post. "Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated."
Tweeden says she has not talked about this publicly before due to worries over "potential backlash and damage" that it might have on her broadcasting career.
"But that was then, this is now. I'm no longer afraid," she adds.
Franken issued a statement on Thursday through a spokesman that does not deny the events: "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."