UPDATE: Sen. Al Franken responds to alleged sexual harassment of - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

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Copy-UPDATE: Sen. Al Franken responds to alleged sexual harassment of female reporter during USO Tour in 2006


Another Minnesota lawmaker is now accused of sexually harassing a female reporter.

According to an article on KABC, a radio station in Los Angeles, written by Leeann Tweeden, she accuses U.S. Senator Al Franken of kissing and groping her during a USO Tour in December, 2006.

In the article, Tweeden writes that Franken, a comedian at the time, and her were doing line reading for a skit when 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."

Later on, Tweeden writes, that while returning from the tour, she fell asleep on the C-17 cargo plane. While she was asleep, Franken allegedly groped her. She writes that she didn't know he did that until she was back in the U.S. and looking through photos given to her by the photographer. (The photo is on the right hand side.)

Shortly after the story broke, Sen. Franken sent out this statement:

Here is his full statement regarding the allegations:

“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women.  There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry.

 “I respect women.  I don't respect men who don't.  And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

 “But I want to say something else, too.  Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

 “For instance, that picture.  I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

 “Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive.  But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all.  It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters.  And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.

 “While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

 “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

 “And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”

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