KABC news anchor Leeann Tweeden has accused Senator Al Franken of groping her in 2006. Tweeden published a first person account of the alleged assault on KABC’s website, saying the incident occurred in December 2006 during her ninth USO Tour in the Middle East. Tweeden was on the tour with music artists Darryl Worley, Mark Wills, Keni Thomas, and cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys. Franken, who is also a comedian, was the headlining act.
According to Tweeden, Franken had written one sketch for the show in which his character comes at her character and gives her a kiss. Tweeden says that she “figured what [Franken] was after,” but was planning to turn her head at the last second or put her hand over her mouth to deflect the kiss and get laughs from the crowd. Franken allegedly pressured her to rehearse the kiss before the show.
“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,” Tweeden writes. “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 says she pushed Franken away and told him never to do that again. “I walked away,” she writes. “All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth. I felt disgusted and violated.” She later joined Franken on stage and performed the sketch as written.
A second harassment incident occurred after the tour wrapped up on Christmas Eve. Tweeden was traveling back to the U.S. from Afghanistan and fell asleep on the plane while she was still wearing a flak vest and a Kevlar helmet. She was given a CD of photographs taken during the tour when she returned to the U.S. and the following one was included, which shows Franken groping her breasts while she was asleep.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
“He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again,” Tweeden writes. “Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?…I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.”
In the wake of numerous sexual harassment and abuse allegations being made across Hollywood, Tweeden decided it was time to go public with her own story. Franken has already issued a statement reacting to the allegations against him.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t.”
Statement from @SenFranken: “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.” https://t.co/aWz9nGS5Sy
— FOX 9 (@FOX9) November 16, 2017