“I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast.”
Two more females have come forward with accusations against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), including an army veteran.
Army Veteran Stephanie Kemplin has accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of groping her breasts during a USO tour in 2003. An unnamed former New England elected offical told Anna Merlan at Jezebel that Franken tried to plant a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” on her in 2006 on stage at an event.
Kemplin spoke to CNN about her incident:
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin said in an interview. “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.”
Kemplin repeatedly used the word “embarrassed” to describe her immediate reaction at the time.
“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she said. “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.”
She added: “It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.”
“And I remember thinking – is he going to move his hand?”
An Army veteran tells CNN that Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2003, cupping her breast during a USO tour photo op. https://t.co/Dpk4Xzoq0P pic.twitter.com/XLyelZlz9V
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 30, 2017
Kemplin told CNN that Franken kept his hand on her breast “from five to 10 seconds” and then she shifted her body to remove his hand before the photographer took the photo.
In one phone call with CNN, Kemplin broke down in tears:
“I was in a war zone… You were on a USO tour — are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own?” she said. “I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”
Kemplin said she did not say anything to Franken at the time.
“You’re immediately put on the spot. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Your mind goes a mile a minute,” she said. “Who was I going to tell?”
She also doesn’t recall telling any fellow soldiers about the incident afterwards because she felt ashamed and did not have peers she felt she could confide in. But she discussed it with multiple family members and relatives, including her sister, as well as an ex-boyfriend. CNN interviewed both.
New England Official
The former elected official in New England told Jezebel she preferred to remain anonymous, but told Merian what happened in 2006:
According to the woman’s account, she was working as the chair of her town’s Selectboard in 2006 when Franken, who was then a host for the progressive radio station Air America, came to her community. The woman was invited to appear as a guest in a live taping of his show and be interviewed in a theater in front of a large audience. Jezebel has independently confirmed that she appeared on the show.
After the interview, the woman tells us, “I reached out my hand to shake his.” Then, she says, “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 says she was in disbelief. “I was stunned and incredulous. I felt demeaned. I felt put in my place.” She says, too, that although they were in an extremely public place, no one noticed: “It was onstage in front of a full theater… It was insidious. It was in plain sight and yet nobody saw it.” She adds, referring to the women who say Franken groped them during photo ops: “The other women’s accounts of him grabbing their buttocks in front of their mothers and husbands, I believe them.”
Franken announced his candidacy for the senate in 2007. The woman told Jezebel “she’s long admired Franken’s politics,” but wants him to take responsibility:
“My intent in coming forward is not to negate the good work he’s done or smear his name,” she told us. “I want him to take personal responsibility for his actions, learn from this, not repeat the behavior, and go forward with respect in all his interactions with women.”
The woman’s sister confirmed her account to Jezebel. She describes herself as a liberal and said his actions against her sister “tainted” the way she viewed him.
A friend of the woman also confirmed the account:
A friend of the woman told us that she, too, was told about the incident shortly after it took place. She remembered the elected official telling her about it after seeing Leann Tweeden’s story, she says. “I said, wait a minute, this rings a bell.” She also describes her politics as liberal: “We don’t have an agenda to bring this guy down and we didn’t at the time.”
Franken gave a short press conference on Monday outside of his office to offer an apology to those women who had already come forward with allegations. Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden claimed that Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her breast as slept in 2006 during a USO tour. A few days later, Lindsay Menz said that Franken grabbed her butt during a photo-op at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
Last week, HuffPo published a report with claims from two anonymous females with similar cases to Menz’s. They said that Franken groped their butts at a political event and then suggested they all go to the bathroom.
Franken told reporters that he didn’t know if other females will come forward.
His office responded to CNN’s Kemplin story:
A Franken spokesperson told CNN Wednesday night: “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. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.”
His office has not responded to Jezebel’s request for a comment or statement, though.DONATE
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