Al Franken, the U.S. Senator accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including one American soldier and a fellow USO entertainer, resigned from office on Thursday amid calls to step down from the majority of his party.
I am proud that during my time in the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women and that I have earned a reputation as someone that respects the women I work alongside every day,” he said on the Senate floor. “I know there has been a very different picture of me painted in the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.”
“has been the great honor of my life” and that “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution. And I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”
Army veteran Stephanie Kemplin, 41, of Maineville, Ohio accused Franken of cupping her breast and other inappropriate touching during a photo op that took place while she was deployed to Kuwait in December of 2003. Kemplin was the fifth woman to accuse Franken of inappropriate behavior at the time of her statement, and the second to accuse him that was tied to his time entertaining the troops on a USO tour.
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.”
“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.”
Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor with KABC in Los Angeles, also accused Franken of behaving inappropriately during one of his USO tours prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate. According to Tweeden, Franken forcibly kissed and groped her during rehearsal for a skit they were going to perform for the troops.
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’,” she wrote in a lengthy and detailed post on KABC’s website. “He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.”
She went on to say that Franken “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,” she said. “I felt disgusted and violated.”
Image courtesy of the Associated Press