A long few weeks have passed since Leeann Tweeden lodged the first sexual misconduct allegation (groping and kissing without consent during a 2006 USO tour) against Al Franken. Another woman quickly came forward to accuse the senator of photo-op rear groping after he was in office, and two more women soon added claims that he also grabbed their behinds while posing for snaps. A fifth woman, an Army veteran, now claims that Franken blatantly grabbed her breast while posing for a photo op.
The alleged incident took place in 2003 while Franken was touring the USO circuit (as with the Tweeden allegations) in his comedic capacity. Stephanie Kemplin tells CNN that Franken put his arm around her for a photo and kept on reaching until he was cupping her breast:
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast. 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. 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.”
Kempin added that the incident lasted up to 10 seconds, and she’s “confident” that this was no accident. As for the photo that she provided to CNN, the vet says that she turned her body “to shift Franken’s hand off her breast” before before the flash went off, so the image doesn’t show the alleged groping. Although she smiled for the camera, Kempin stated that the entire process made her feel “embarrassed” and “numb.”
Franken has issued repeated apologies as continued allegations surface while also claiming that he doesn’t remember these photo ops. His spokesperson takes a similar tactic here. “[H]e takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct,” the statement said. However, Franken himself has conceded that he simply has no idea if more women will make accusations against him.