Senator Al Franken Accused Of Kissing And Groping A Woman Without Her Consent — And She Shared A Photo As Proof

Al Franken
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He has since apologized.

Senator Al Franken is the latest powerful man to be accused of sexual assault and harassment. 

Leeann Tweeden, news anchor and former model, claims that in December of 2006 while on a USO tour with Franken he forcefully kissed her and groped her breasts while she was sleeping. It all started when Franken told her that he had written line for her in a skit. She agreed to play along. 

"When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss,’" she wrote in an article published on KABC. "I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd."

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"On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, 'We need to rehearse the kiss.' I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’ "

But Franken persisted, despite Tweeden saying no.

"He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then 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."

"I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time."

Tweeden went on with the skit but turned away from Franken during the kiss scene. She said she didn't tell anyone at first because she didn't want to cause trouble in a war zone or damage her career, which was just getting started. She said throughout the rest of the tour, Franken insulted her and even drew devil horns on one of the headshots she was signing to give out to the troops. But he crossed the line again when they embarked on their 36-hour trip home. 

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Tweeden fell asleep immediately as they took off, and it wasn't until she got back to the United States and was looking through the CD that was given to participants by the photographer that she saw what Franken had done. "I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep," she wrote. "I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?"

Until now, she hasn't spoken about the assault or the photo evidence of it because she was afraid. Now she's not. 

"You knew exactly what you were doing. 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."

"While debating whether or not to go public, I even thought to myself, so much worse has happened to so many others, maybe my story isn’t worth telling? But my story is worth telling."

Franken has since apologized for the incident on Twitter, saying: “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."

“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” he continued. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz). 

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