US senator Al Franken apologises for grope caught on camera

US Senator Al Franken has responded to a woman’s allegations that he groped her as she slept and “forcibly” kissed her in a rehearsal for a comedy skit.

Leeann Tweeden says the two incidents happened in December 2006 on a tour to entertain US troops overseas, before Mr Franken entered politics.

The radio host wrote that the former comic “aggressively” kissed her while saying they had to rehearse a scene.

Mr Franken, a former Saturday Night Live writer, apologised for the grope.

But the Minnesota Democrat said he has a different recollection of the other incident.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” he said in a statement.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Mr Franken issued a second, longer statement less than two hours later after a ferocious backlash from critics who accused him of a non-apology and demanded his resignation.

In an article for KABC, a Los Angeles radio station where Ms Tweeden now works, she recalled feeling victimised by Mr Franken during her ninth USO tour of the Middle East.

“When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes climbing at me for a ‘kiss’,” she said.

“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.”

On the day of the performance in Kuwait, she said he was insistent they rehearse the skit.

But when the moment came he “put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth”.

“You knew exactly what you were doing,” she wrote. “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.”

Later at a press conference in Los Angeles, Ms Tweeden went into further detail about how “he stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast”.

“And all I can remember is that his lips were really wet and slimy,” she said. (Courtesy BBC)

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