Al Franken Apologizes After KABC Radio Anchor Says He Groped, Kissed Her Without Consent

Leeann Tweeden says incident happened during 2006 USO tour before comedian became a U.S. senator

Model and radio host Leeann Tweeden on Thursday accused Sen. Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent while they both worked on a USO Tour of the Middle East in 2006 — prompting the Minnesota Democrat to offer his “sincerest apologies.”

Tweeden said Franken, a former star of “Saturday Night Live” who was elected to the Senate in 2009, insisted on practicing a skit in which he’d kiss her on the lips, before they performed it in front of the troops.

“I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd,” wrote Tweeden in a blog post for L.A.’s 790 KABC, where she works as a morning news anchor.

When Tweeden relented, after several requests from Franken, and rehearsed the skit, she said he grabbed her by the back of the head and forced his tongue down her throat.

“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 said.

She said she tried to avoid Franken for the rest of the USO tour, but he grabbed her breasts while she was sleeping and posed for a picture on the plane ride home (Tweeden included a picture of a smiling Franken grabbing at her in her story).

“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” she wrote. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”

Franken issued a statement on Thursday through a spokesman. “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” he said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Tweeden noted that she did not report her experience at the time to anyone at the USO or the Sergeant Major of the Army, who sponsored the tour; she did say she told her husband, Chris, a former Air Force pilot, about the incident.

Tweeden added she’s “still angry” at Franken, and was compelled to come forward after interviewing California Congresswoman Jackie Speier — who shared that she’d been sexually assaulted as a young aide.

“Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry,” wrote Tweeden.