Democratic Senator Al Franken is the latest man accused of forcing himself on an unwilling woman. In blog post of KABC, actress Leeann Tweeden says that during a USO Tour in Afghanistan, the senator sexually assaulted her.
The first encounter happened while the two were rehearsing their lines for a skit they were about to perform in front of the troops. She said that Franken wrote in a part that ended with the two kissing. She says she had no intention of actually kissing him, and planned to instead push him away, hoping it would get some laughs from the crowd.
Her plan to avoid kissing him was thwarted, when he demanded they rehearse the kiss. After reluctantly agreeing, she practiced the kiss, but Franken took it too far:
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.
While that is bad, what happened later in the trip is even worse. While they were flying home, Tweeden said she fell asleep on the C-17 cargo plane bringing them home. While asleep, and still wearing her flak jacket and Kevlar helmet, Franken groped her chest. To add injury to insult, he smiled as he posed for a photo of the lewd act.
Tweeden did not even realize it happened until she got home and was reviewing photos of the trip. She said was angry, but decided at the time to keep it to herself because she "didn't want to rock the boat":
Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry. I am angry that I did his stupid skit for the rest of that tour. I am angry that I didn’t call him out in front of everyone when I had the microphone in my hand every night after that. I wanted to. But I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was there to entertain the troops and make sure they forgot about where they were for a few hours. Someday, I thought to myself, I would tell my story.
With all the sexual assault revelations surfacing, she felt it was time to share her story.
Franken responded in a statement to Politico, apologizing for his actions:
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
Photo: Getty Images