Minnesota Sen. Al Franken apologized Thursday and faced a likely Senate ethics investigation after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour. Fellow Democrats as well as Republican colleagues called for an investigation.
Leeann Tweeden also accused Franken of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept, while both were performing for military personnel two years before the one-time comedian was elected to the Senate.
Tweeden posted the allegations, including the photo, on the website of KABC, where she works as a news anchor.
Tweeden said Thursday that Franken was persistent, and “every time I see him now, my hands clench into fists.”
Still, she said she has no reason not to accept his apology and is not calling for an ethics investigation or for Franken to resign. She told a news conference in Los Angeles that she came forward hoping to inspire others to tell their stories.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the allegations “troubling” and said he hopes and expects that the Senate Ethics Committee will investigate.
“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Schumer said.
Franken initially released a brief statement in which he apologized but questioned Tweeden’s recollection of his behavior during their rehearsal for a skit. In a longer statement Thursday afternoon, he again apologized while maintaining that he remembered the rehearsal differently.
“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. “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.”
Of the photo, Franken said: “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.”
Senate Democrats reacted swiftly and with one voice to the allegation that came as Republicans are grappling with allegations of molestation against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Moore should step aside, quickly said the Senate should look into Franken.
Meanwhile with President Donald Trump standing on the sidelines, Moore and his allies on the ground in Alabama are bracing for an extended conflict – not with Democrats, but with their own party in Washington.
The divide between the state and national GOP reached new depths Thursday after more allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative. Already, the Republican National Committee, the Senate GOP campaign committee and the party’s leading voices in Congress have called on the 70-year-old former judge to quit the race.
Ever defiant, Moore and his supporters lashed out at his accusers in a Thursday press conference in which he refused to answer any questions.
At least three new allegations of misconduct surfaced the day before, including one by Tina Johnson, who told AL.com that Moore groped her during a 1991 meeting in his law office. Two others told The Washington Post they were young women when Moore courted them as a district attorney in his 30s. Three other women told the newspaper last week that they were teens when Moore tried to initiate romantic relationships.
In other developments:
A police report uncovered Thursday said Sylvester Stallone forced a teenage girl into having sex with him and his bodyguard at a ritzy Las Vegas hotel more than three decades ago.
An unidentified 16-year-old girl filed the report with the Las Vegas Police Department, claiming that Stallone and his bodyguard, Michael De Luca, “intimidated” her into having sex with them at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel on July 26, 1986. The police report was first obtained by the Daily Mail.
Stallone is denying any involvement in the alleged incident.
London’s Old Vic Theatre said Thursday it has received 20 allegations of inappropriate behavior by its former artistic director Kevin Spacey, and acknowledged that a “cult of personality” around the Hollywood star had made it difficult for people to come forward.
The London theater launched an investigation into Spacey last month after claims of sexual harassment emerged in the United States. Spacey, 58, led the Old Vic between 2004 and 2015.
Actress Rose McGowan was arraigned Thursday on a felony cocaine charge, days after she alleged in The New Yorker that the drugs may been planted to discredit her.
One of the most outspoken actresses to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse, McGowan told the magazine that she’s been so fearful of the movie mogul that she hired her own private investigator to make sure the drug warrant against her was real.
McGowan, 44, is accused by prosecutors of possessing cocaine that was found in a wallet recovered by an airline crew after her Jan. 20 flight to Washington Dulles International Airport.
McGowan said she reported the lost wallet to the airline after landing.