Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live writer and comedian who later became Senator of Minnesota, has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Leeann Tweeden, a news anchor on Los Angeles radio program McIntyre in the Morning, says Franken assaulted her while the two were participating in a USO tour in 2006. She detailed the incident in a post on 790 KABC’s website.
As Tweeden tells it, Franken wrote a part for her in the stage show he performed as part of the tour. The script called for her character to kiss Franken and he demanded they “rehearse the kiss” backstage.
“He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable,” Tweeden recounts. “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.”
“I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.”
Tweeden says she ceased interactions with Franken following the incident. He responded “with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops,” Tweedy alleges.
Later, as members of the tour were aboard a 36-hour flight home to Los Angeles, Tweeden says Franken groped her breasts as she slept. A photographer actually captured the incident and Tweeden included the photograph in her story.
Tweeden says she was compelled to share her story after speaking with California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who herself had been sexually assaulted when she was a young Congressional aide. “She described how a powerful man in the office where she worked ‘held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth.’ At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me.”
In a statement, Franken said, “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.”
Update: Statement has released a second, longer statement, which you can read below.