Stop having heroes, everybody! The age of being able to look up to men has officially come to a close now that Senator Al Franken — who by all public accounts until now has been a progressive champion of women's rights — has been accused of groping and kissing a woman without her consent. Comedy heroes, titans of their industries, and powerful politicians are dropping like flies as we realize that everyone is terrible and sexual harassment and assault are so much more prevalent than we gave it credit for.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken has sort of kind of not really apologized after broadcaster and model Leann Tweeden accused him of sexual assault.
via: Getty ImagesIn an essay published for Los Angeles radio station KABC, Tweeden described how Franken "forcibly kissed" and groped her when they were both on a USO tour in the Middle East in 2006 — two years before Franken was elected as a Democratic Senator in Minnesota.
Tweeden explained that she was a TV host, sports broadcaster, and well-known model at the time. She expected to emcee and introduce the skits and the acts during the show.
via: Getty ImagesHowever, Franken said he had written a part for her "that he thought would be funny," and Tweeden agreed to play along.
"When I saw the script," Tweeden wrote, "Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a 'kiss.'"
via: Getty Images"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." But then, Franken insisted on rehearsing the kiss. Tweeden tried to brush him off, but he insisted. "He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss," she wrote. "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."
Tweeden immediately pushed him away, obviously disgusted.
via: Getty ImagesWhen they actually performed the skit, Tweeden turned her head so he couldn't kiss her on the lips. Tweeden said she didn't report the incident at the time. She "didn't want to cause trouble." Sound familiar? But that wasn't the only horrific incident Tweeden suffered at the hands of Franken...
When the tour wrapped and they were on their way home, Tweeden fell asleep on the plane after it left from Afghanistan. She didn't see this horrific photo until she was back in the U.S.:
KABC anchor: Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It… https://t.co/fdC4GkUxV6— Meridith McGraw (@Meridith McGraw)1510845748.0
Tweeden expressed that despite her fury, she still felt she couldn't come forward.
via: Getty ImagesShe wrote, "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." Vilifying victims of sexual assault is one of the most damaging things we've done to women in our society.
"But," Tweeden wrote, "that was then, this is now. I am no longer afraid."
via: Getty Images"I'm telling my story because there may be others... "I want the days of silence to be over forever."
Leann Tweeden did an incredibly brave thing by coming forward.
Any level of discomfort you feel when reading about the shitty actions of people you admire(d) pales in comparison… https://t.co/VWY9rO9pll— joel tyler (@joel tyler)1510847158.0
Since that statement, Franken has released a longer apology:
Longer statement from Sen. @alfranken: https://t.co/aceRG3bgGp— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper)1510854670.0
Tweeden has said she accepts Franken's apology.
via: Getty Images"The apology, sure I accept it, yes. People make mistakes and of course he knew he made a mistake. So yes I do accept his apology," she said.