Woman accuses Al Franken of kissing, groping her without consent

A TV host and sports broadcaster on Thursday accused Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (D-Minn.) of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006.

Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of groping her, without her consent, while she was asleep and provided a photo as evidence.

The incident happened in December 2006, she said, when she and Franken, then a comedian, were on a USO tour to "entertain our troops."

Franken in a statement apologized for his actions.

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"It wasn’t until I was back in the U.S. and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one," Tweeden wrote about the photo on KABC.

"I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated," she wrote. "How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?"

Tweeden wrote that Franken, who was the headliner on the tour, had written some skits and told her he had a part for her, adding that she "agreed to play along."

"When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. 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," she wrote.

"On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. 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 Franken continued to insist and she got "uncomfortable."

"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," she wrote.

"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 she felt disgusted and violated. She added that she didn't tell anyone what happened at the time, but she was "angry."

Tweeden also said she fell asleep while on the plane back to the U.S. She said is wasn't until she saw the photo of Franken groping her that she told her husband what had happened and showed him the photo.

"I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster," she wrote.

"But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid."

She said she is sharing her story because there may be others.

"I want the days of silence to be over forever," she wrote.

Tweeden also issued a direct statement to Franken.

"Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault," she wrote.

"You knew exactly what you were doing. You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed."

Franken said he does not remember the incident the same way but acknowledged the photo "wasn't" funny.

“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," he said in a statement.

Tweeden's comments come amid increased reports of sexual harassment in the workplace, including on Capitol Hill. Multiple women in Congress have come forward to say they have been victims of sexual harassment, prompting lawmakers to call for reform.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Tuesday the House has paid out $15 million in harassment settlements over more than a decade, though a spokesperson later clarified that figure does not only account for sexual harassment claims.

She said at a Tuesday hearing that two current members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, have been accused of sexual harassment.

Her comments come after multiple women have accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct. Moore is facing growing calls from top Republicans to step aside in the Alabama race, though he has indicated he plans to continue running.

This report was updated at 11:07 a.m.