- Two women, one an Army veteran and the other a former New England elected official, say that Sen. Al Franken touched them inappropriately.
- Six women have accused Franken of sexual misconduct – ranging from groping to forcible kissing – in recent weeks.
Two more women have accused Sen. Al Franken of touching them inappropriately, growing the number of women who have accused the senator of sexual misconduct to six. Stephanie Kemplin, an Army veteran, told CNN that Franken cupped her breast during a photo op while she was deployed in Kuwait in December 2003.
Franken, a Minnesota Democrat and former comedian and writer, was performing for military service members abroad when he met Kemplin, who was then 27 years old.
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin told CNN. “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.”
Six women have now accused Franken of sexual misconduct in recent weeks, two of them alleging that he behaved inappropriately while on a United Service Organisations tour. Three other women say Franken groped their buttocks while posing for photos with them.
Kemplin said she was shocked and embarrassed by the incident and did not confront Franken, but she did tell her sister and an ex-boyfriend at the time, both of whom confirmed the allegations to CNN.
“I just remember her telling me that he grabbed her breast and that she was so shocked about it,” Amy Muddiman, Kemplin’s older sister, told CNN. “My sister is pretty bold and assertive and she said that she didn’t know what to do.”
Kemplin said she’s “confident” the alleged groping was not an accident.
“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she told CNN. “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.”
Another woman, a former New England elected official, told Jezebel that Franken attempted to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” onstage after appearing on Franken’s Air America radio show in 2006, less than a year before Franken announced his Senate candidacy.
“I reached out my hand to shake his,” the woman said. “He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open. I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”
The woman said she was “stunned and incredulous” and felt “demeaned” by the incident, which the woman’s sister said she told her about immediately.
“My intent in coming forward is not to negate the good work he’s done or smear his name,” the woman, who describes her politics as liberal, told Jezebel. “I want him to take personal responsibility for his actions, learn from this, not repeat the behaviour, and go forward with respect in all his interactions with women.”
Franken continues to insist that he doesn’t remember these encounters
In response to the new accusation, a spokesperson for Franken suggested that the senator did not remember the incident and repeated his claim that he “never intentionally engaged” in inappropriate behaviour.
“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,” the spokesperson told CNN. “He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.”
The allegations against Franken have emerged in the two weeks since Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles TV and radio host, accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her during a USO tour in 2006.
Franken has refused to resign his Senate seat but has repeatedly apologised to the women who have felt disrespected by his behaviour and promised to “cooperate completely” with any investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into his past behaviour.
“I know that I am going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances – much more careful, much more sensitive,” Franken said during a press conference on Monday. “It’s going to take a long time for me to regain people’s trust, but I hope that starting work today that I can start to do that.”
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