A news anchor and former sports broadcaster has accused Senator Al Franken of sexual assault.
Leeann Tweeden, who covers the news on KABC’s McIntyre In The Morning, has published a lengthy post about the alleged assault. In it, she describes how, while on a USO tour in December 2006, Franken recruited her for one of his skits—performances that, “like many USO shows before and since,” were “full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.”
Although she had also been a model, Tweeden assumed that her career in broadcasting and news meant she’d just be emceeing and announcing on the tour. But Franken claimed to have written a part just for her in one of the skits, which involved kissing. On the day of the performance, Tweeden writes that Franken kept asking her to rehearse the kiss, which she kept trying to politely decline. Finally, she agreed to practice the kiss so he would “stop badgering her.” Here’s what Tweeden says followed:
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.
Tweeden says she pressed on through the tour, though she always turned her head away from Franken’s mouth when they performed the skit for the troops. She never told anyone what happened, though she did avoid Franken as much as she could for the rest of the tour. But then on the flight home to Los Angeles, Tweeden says she fell asleep in her flak jacket and Kevlar vest. That was when Franken groped her breasts, an incident someone else on the flight photographed. It wasn’t until she was looking over the CD photo album that she realized what had happened.
I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
Tweeden didn’t report Franken to anyone for the groping for fear of reprisal. But she was recently bolstered by the wave of disclosures about predatory behavior by Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Jeremy Piven, among others. Now she writes, “I want the days of silence to be over forever.”
Update 10:18 a.m.:
Al Franken has issued this response to Tweeden’s allegations.