As the allegations against Harvey Weinstein continue to pile up, horrific stories about other men abusing their power to sexually assault women have been rolling in at an alarming rate as well. While this trend continued with men in the entertainment industry, including photographer Terry Richardson and director James Toback, it also expanding into the political sphere as well. While veteran political journalist Mark Halperin is facing accusations of sexual assault, a third woman has come forward to say that former president George H.W. Bush groped her back in 2014.
Following in the brave footsteps of actresses Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick, writer Christina Baker Kline wrote an essay for Slate detailing her sexual assault at the hands of Bush. While attending the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy fundraiser in 2014, Kline met Bush and the situation played out in a similar fashion as the two other accusations: during a photo op, Bush made his go-to joke about his favorite book before grabbing Kline’s backside.
“By now the photographer was readying the shot. My husband stood on one side of the wheelchair, and I stood on the other. President Bush put his arm around me, low on my back. His comic timing was impeccable. ‘David Cop-a-feel,’ he said, and squeezed my butt, hard, just as the photographer snapped the photo. Instinctively, I swiped his hand away.
It’s right there in the official photograph. President Bush laughing at his joke (like a mischievous boy, I thought at the time); me, struggling to keep the smile on my face. My husband, David, on the other side of President Bush’s wheelchair, is smiling broadly. He doesn’t know what just happened.”
Kline also explains that this seemed to be a regular occurrence with Bush considering the response of his team.
“Once we were on our way, I told David what had happened. I was still so surprised that it didn’t occur to me to keep it secret. His mouth fell open. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’
Our driver, who was stopped at a light, sat there for a moment, then leaned back and looked at us. ‘I do trust you will be … discreet,’ she said.
Her comment wasn’t menacing. But in that moment I thought: She has heard this before. The people around President Bush are accustomed to doing damage control. There must be many of us, I remember thinking. And now I know there are.”
Although Bush issued an apology after the second assault came to light, that doesn’t excuse this type of behavior. It is simply unacceptable.