Well this is incredibly troubling.
On Thursday, a TV host and sports broadcaster detailed the alleged sexual assault she suffered at Senator Al Franken‘s hands back in 2006. Allegedly, Franken both groped and kissed the woman, named Leeann Tweeden, without her consent.
To make matters worse, the groping incident took place while Miz Tweeden was asleep. The TV personality provided photographic evidence (below).
So how did this unsavory encounter come about?? Per Leeann’s account, she met the then comedian in December 2006, while the two were on a USO Tour in the Middle East to “entertain our troops.”
On the upsetting photo (above), Leeann wasn’t aware the grope took place until she was looking through the CD of photos the participants were given. She explained in a piece for KABC:
“It wasn’t until I was back in the U.S. and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one… I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”
How awful. Sadly, that wasn’t her only unpleasant run-in with Franken.
Reportedly, Al had invited Leeann to participate in one of the sketches he wrote as headliner of the USO Tour. Although Tweeden “agreed to play along,” she was uncomfortable with a scripted kiss in one of the bits.
“When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ├óΓé¼╦£kiss’. 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.
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, ├óΓé¼╦£Relax Al, this isn’t SNL├óΓé¼┬ªwe don’t need to rehearse the kiss.'”
Despite Leeann’s protests, Franken pushed and pushed to rehearse the kiss. Finally, Leeann caved and agreed to rehearse the sketch so Al would stop “badgering” her. The industry vet shared:
“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.”
Understandably, Leeann felt disgusted and violated following the incident. Tweeden chose not to speak out about the assault, however amid the successful Me Too campaign, the news anchor felt brave enough to come forward with her story.
The Minnesota senator has since addressed Tweeden’s allegations as he relayed in a statement:
“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.”
Huh. We doubt Leeann will accept his apology, as she concluded her essay with:
“Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault. You wrote the scene that would include you kissing me and then relentlessly badgered me into ├óΓé¼╦£rehearsing’ the kiss with you backstage when we were alone.
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.”