Los Angeles-area reporter Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that she was kissed without her consent and groped in her sleep by Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) in 2006. Tweeden, writing for KABC, where she is a morning news anchor, met the future senator — then working as a comedian — during a 2006 USO tour.
Tweeden said that during the tour, Franken wrote a skit where his character would try to kiss hers. Franken was insistent they practice the kiss, she wrote:
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said "okay" 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.
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. [Leeann Tweeden, via KABC]
Tweeden said she felt "disgusted and violated" by the incident. Because she "didn't want to cause trouble," she told "a few of the others on the tour" about the kiss, but did not report Franken to any authority figures. Then, on their flight back to the U.S. after the tour was over, Tweeden fell asleep — still wearing her flak vest and Kevlar helmet — at which point Franken groped her as someone took a picture:
Scripps' Mike Sacks noted that in his book Giant of the Senate, Franken claimed that his experience on the USO tour was a motivating factor in him running for office. In a statement, Franken told NBC's Asher Klein: "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."
Read Tweeden's story in full at KABC.