ST. PAUL, Minn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) is the latest politician accused of sexual misconduct – apologizing Thursday after allegations that he groped a woman.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, Franken’s remarks came as Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore addressed the growing accusations against him.READ MORE: Street Closures Planned In Midtown For Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden accuses Franken in an essay on the website for her station, KABC-AM, where she anchors a morning talk show. Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit for the pair during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East and insisted they practice a kiss during rehearsal, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported.
Tweeden says she tried to resist but says Franken forced himself on her and stuck his tongue in her 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 next time,” Tweeden wrote. “I felt disgusted and violated.”
Tweeden further described the alleged incident at a news conference Thursday.
“All I could remember is that his lips were really wet and it was slimy,” Tweeden said. “In my mind I called him ‘fish lips’ the rest of the trip.”
Tweeden also released a photo from later on in the USO tour, in which she said she was sleeping while Franken appeared to grope her chest.
“I took that as the, you know, the final like, ‘Hehe,’ like, ‘I got the last laugh,’” Tweeden said.
Franken, a former writer and occasional performer on “Saturday Night Live,” was not a U.S. senator at the time of the alleged incident. But fellow lawmakers and even Franken himself are calling for an ethics investigation into his actions.
Franken released a statement of apology.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
“But I want to say something else, too,” Franken added. “Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Shot In The Bronx
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. 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. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
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. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.”
“Nothing like that is ever funny,” Tweeden said during a Thursday afternoon press conference. “I was just disgusted you know. I felt violated, he betrayed my trust and obviously that is not what I wanted.”
Tweeden said she also called Franken “fish lips” because of how he kissed her and that she wanted to punch him.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for an ethics review.
The accusation against Franken comes amid a growing wave of accusations of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and various other public figures inspired by the #MeToo movement.
More lawmakers are now calling on Moore to quit the race for Senate in Alabama, as three new women came forward saying Moore made unwelcome advances toward them when they were young women or teenagers.
“They are not only untrue, they have no evidence,” Moore said of the rumors. “I’ll quit standing when they lay me in the box and put me in the ground.”
Moore said he is not going anywhere, and instead called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to step down.
“This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election,” Moore said. “They’re not only untrue, there’s no evidence to support them.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “The president believes these allegations are very troubling and believe the people of Alabama should make the decision.”
As for Tweeden, she said she accepts Franken’s apology, but says he could’ve apologized sooner.
she’s not asking for him to step down.
As for why she came forward now? She said she is hoping to inspire others to tell their stories.MORE NEWS: CNN's Chris Cuomo Suspended Indefinitely Over Extent Of Help To His Brother During Scandal
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)