In a now-deleted Instagram post, actress Heather Lind claimed George H.W. Bush had sexually assaulted her during a photo-op in 2014, writing that he’d grabbed her “from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side,” told a dirty joke, then grabbed her again. After Newsweek and other outlets picked up the story, a spokesman for the former president issued this brief apology: “President Bush would never—under any circumstance—intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”
The dirty-joke-and-grope scenario sounded awfully familiar to actress Jordana Grolnick, who recently went on the record with Deadspin about an incident in 2016. Grolnick says that while she was in Maine working on a production of Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the former president and the former first lady, who had been in the audience one night, went backstage to meet and take a photo with the cast. As they gathered around Bush, Grolnick said he “reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’
The cast uncomfortably laughed off the creepy joke, while Grolnick says Barbara Bush said “He’s going to get himself put into jail!,” which just made everyone laugh harder, because what can you do when someone who was once the most powerful man in the world puts you in that position? But even though these are the first allegations to come to light about Bush senior, Grolnick says she’d been warned about that he “had a reputation for fondling during photo ops,” which she didn’t take seriously. Grolnick tells Deadspin: “I guess I was thinking, he’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?’”
After Grolnick’s story broke, Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman, issued another, lengthier attempt at an apology that still tries to dismiss what Bush did, and finishes with the old “sorry if you were offended.”
Apparently, Deadspin had received a tip about Lind’s story in 2014, when the publication also found references on Twitter to Bush’s “Cop-a-feel” joke. In his initial attempt to report the tip, Dave McKenna also learned of Grolnick’s allegation, but never heard back from any of the parties when he reached out for comments.