An Army veteran says Al Franken groped her breast during a photo op in 2003, CNN reports.
Stephanie Kemplin, who was deployed in Kuwait in 2003, tells CNN she met Franken while he was in the Middle East for a USO tour. After standing in line to take a picture with Franken, Kemplin says “he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast.” The veteran continued, “I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side.”
Kemplin describes her reaction, saying she was very embarrassed at the time: “I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed. And I remember thinking—is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand.” A military officer at the time, Kemplin says Franken left his hand in place for 5 to 10 seconds, which was “long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.”
“I did not process it in those split seconds,” Kemplin says. “You’re immediately put on the spot. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Your mind goes a mile a minute. Who was I going to tell?” She showed CNN the photo from the shoot, in which the outlet notes Franken’s hand is on Kemplin’s side “at chest level,” and not on her breast. 14 years later, the army vet still feels “so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”
This account is an increasingly familiar tale, as Kemplin is now the fifth woman to claim that Franken groped her. A representative for the Minnesota senator issued the following statement in response to CNN’s story “As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.” As we previously reported, when asked if there were any other allegations forthcoming, Franken said he couldn’t be sure.