George H.W. Bush 'Apologizes' (Twice) After Actress Heather Lind Accuses Him Of Sexual Assault During This Photo Op

Photo: The Daily Mail
Former President George HW Bush Apologizes To Actress Heather Lind For Groping Her While Telling A Dirty Joke

No, seriously. TWICE.

Yet another brave woman inspired by the empowering momentum of the #MeToo Movement has come forward to share her experience of sexual assault — and this time, she has taken on a member of one of the world 's most elite group of men, former President of the United States George H.W. Bush.

And not only did 34-year-old actress Heather Lind bravely detail the incident in a now-deleted but then public post on her Instagram account, but former President Bush, 93, has issued formal statements of apology.

Well, sorta...

Lind's post recounted the events of March 29, 2014, in a fair amount of detail.

“I was disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H.W. Bush in a gathering of ex-Presidents organizing aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes. I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served. And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo. He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again.’ His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”

“We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me. What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character. My fellow cast-mates and producers helped me that day and continue to support me. I am grateful for the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences. And I thank President Barack Obama for the gesture of respect he made toward George H.W. Bush for the sake of our country, but I do not respect him. #metoo”

Lind's co-workers have come forward via Twitter to confirm her version of the events.

Author Alexander Rose, who wrote the book on which AMC series Turn: Washington Spies was based, was present when the publicity photos in question were taken on March 29, 2014.

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And her co-star Nick Westrate, who plays Robert Townsend on the series, but was not present on that day, offered his own words of support.

As for former President Bush Sr., his team first offered this brief reply to Lind's allegations:

'President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.'

While Bush's statement was being hailed as an apology across media outlets, and it certainly is at least half a step forward in that it isn't a denial, it bears stating that apologies couched in the framework of "I apologize IF" are what is consider qualified apologies, also known as non-apologies, because they are, in fact, not, actually apologies at all.

As explained by Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf on PsychCentral:

"There is a way of apologizing that isn’t an apology at all but is meant to look like an apology and is done out of duty. Generally this happens when people say, 'I’m sorry if I hurt you.' The key word in this sentence is 'if'. What the person is saying is, 'I don’t think I really did anything to hurt you but if you think I hurt you then I will dutifully apologize.'"

"This kind of apology is, in a sense, the minimum kind of apology one can make. It is an apology, but one that is qualified by the 'if.' Hence is it meaningless."

Perhaps someone on his team became aware of this fact, as his office then issued this slightly refined public statement:

"At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke —and on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely."

This is in no way about me, but as a woman reading the above message from the office of a former President of the United States of America, I truly feel ill.

There is no occasion — NONE — on which it is or should be acceptable for a man to pat "women's rears" regardless of whether or not HE thinks it was good-natured. Because women's bodies don't belong to HIM, they belong to themselves. Then toss in the fact that this man is in a position of serious power. What woman in her right mind would call such behavior out as anything but "innocent" in the presence of a public figure of that stature and his secret service?


And this particular problem was known and recognized for YEARS.

And again, the apology is both conditional in nature and completely indirect in regard to Lind and her extremely direct and detailed account.

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The photo of Lind and Bush is also oddly reminiscent of the one submitted into evidence in Taylor Swift's successful lawsuit against Denver radio-show host David Mueller (known on-air as Jackson), who she claims put his hand up her skirt and groped her from behind as she briefly posed with him and his girlfriend backstage prior to one of her concerts on June 2, 2013.

Mueller's girlfriend, Swift, and Mueller

Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush and Heather Lind

Gentlemen, please tell us you are catching on to the fact that this kind of behavior is simply unacceptable. It's enough.

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Senior Editor and happily-former divorce coach/mediator Arianna Jeret is a recognized expert on love, sex, and relationships (except when it comes to her own life, of course) who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Join her Sundays at 10:20 PM EST for answers to ALL of your questions on Facebook Live on YourTango and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.