Democratic Senator Al Franken finds himself the latest public figure to be accused of sexual harassment. Broadcaster Leeann Tweeden has accused Franken of aggressively kissing her during a USO show rehearsal and groping her breasts while she slept on a plane ride.
Tweeden presented a photo of Franken seemingly groping her as she slept.
In 2006, both Tweeden, a then model, and Franken, a then Saturday Night Live comedian were on a USO tour to entertain troops. It was on the trip that the alleged abuse took place.
In a post on KABC, Tweeden wrote, “Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.”
“As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.”
“When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. 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.”
However, according to Tweeden, Franken was much more persistent and aggressive on the day of the show. She continued, “On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’”
“He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.”
“He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. 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.”
Tweeden said she felt “disgusted and violated.” Then Tweeden described a second incident on the same trip involving Franken:
“The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.”
“It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:”
Franken said in a statement, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”