Al Franken accused of groping, unwanted kissing by radio anchor Leeann Tweeden

WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) — Television host, sports broadcaster and model Leeann Tweeden says that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, “kissed and groped” her without consent while entertaining troops on a USO Tour in December 2006.

Tweeden, a KABC radio news anchor, wrote in a post that among other entertainers present on the tour was former Saturday Night Live star Franken, the headlining comedian. She writes that parts of his act “were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.”

Tweeden explains that Franken wrote a part for her for a skit in the show, and the script directed that Franken’s character would lean in to kiss her.

“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,” Tweeden wrote.

While rehearsing alone backstage one day ahead of the performance, Tweeden said that Franken told her “we need to rehearse the kiss.” She says she laughed it off, but Franken persisted, to which she responded something like, “Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss,” she says.

But Franken’s insistence continued, which Tweeden says made her uncomfortable. Eventually, she broke down and agreed to rehearse the kiss with him.

Running lines together leading up to the scene, Tweeden says that Franken then came at her and “put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”

Tweeden recalls that she immediately pushed him off, told Franken to never approach her like that again, and walked away.

“I felt disgusted and violated,” she writes, adding that no one saw the incident and that she didn’t tell any authority figures on the tour about it.

Past their performances on the tour together, she “avoided him as much as possible” from then on.

Tweeden says that Franken began acting hostile toward her for the duration of the tour, including one instance when Franken groped her chest while she slept on a flight back to the United States from Afghanistan.

“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” Tweeden wrote. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”

Tweeden says she told her husband of the groping incident, showing him the photo, but that she was hesitant to initially share her story publicly out of fear that backlash may affect her broadcasting career.

She explains that she still harbors anger toward the senator.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” Tweeden writes, addressing Franken. “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.”

Franken responded to the Tweeden’s story shortly after its publication Thursday morning.

“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,” he said in a statement to CBS News.

Tweeden’s story about Franken comes as Senate Republicans struggle with what to do about numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s