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Leeann Tweeden said she accepts Al Franken's apology: 'People make mistakes'

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Updated November 16, 2017 02:07 PM EST

The woman who accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of groping and kissing her in the past says that she accepts his apology over the incident.

Morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden of TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles adds that she is not pushing for an ethics investigation into Franken.

"The apology, sure, I accept it, yes," she said Thursday during a press conference. "People make mistakes and of course he knew he made a mistake. So yes, I do accept that apology."

"The ethics investigation? If that's what [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY] wants to do, that's on them," Tweeden continued. "I'm not calling for that. I'm not demanding that."

"I'm not calling for him to step down. That's not my place. That's not my call. I'm not saying that. People make mistakes."

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Tweeden also noted that she had unearthed her past experiences with Franken to help other women dealing with sexual misconduct impacting them.

"This is happening in middle America," she said. "This is happening to women who work at Chili's. This is happening to women who have no power and no way to speak up."

"I think the tide is turning. What about the women who don't have a microphone and a voice and can say something and then it's all on the news?"

Tweeden earlier Thursday shared a photo of Franken groping her breasts while they were on a United Services Organization (USO) tour through Afghanistan in December 2006.

The broadcaster also noted that Franken, who was then a comedian headling the trek, also forcibly kissed her without permission while they were rehearsing a sketch together.

Franken has since apologized for the incident, and he has also called for an ethics investigation into his behavior after multiple lawmakers from both major political parties also did so.

Updated November 16, 2017 01:26 PM EST

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday called for an ethics investigation into his behavior after a woman accused him of groping and kissing her without her consent in the past.

Morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden of TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles earlier Thursday accused Franken committing the acts during a December 2006 United Services Organization (USO) tour through Afghanistan.

"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of the tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women," Franken said in statement, according to CNN's Jake Tapper, his second about the matter in a day.

"I respect women," he added. "I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed."

"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen and believe women's experiences. I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate."

Tweeden earlier Thursday published a photo of Franken grabbing her breasts while she was sleeping during the 2006 USO tour he was headlining as a comedian at the time.

The broadcaster also accused Franken of forcibly kissing her while they were rehearsing a sketch for a performance on the trek.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday said that the Senate Ethics Committee should probe the allegations against Franken after they emerged.

"Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable - in the workplace or anywhere else," he said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) soon echoed those remarks, agreeing that the allegations should be thoroughly examined.

"Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must never be tolerated," he said in a statement. "I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment."

A woman says that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) once groped and kissed her without consent before he entered office.

Morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden of TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles on Thursday said that the incident occurred in December 2006 in an article posted by the outlet.

Tweeden also provided a photo as evidence of Franken groping her during their work together on a United Services Organization (USO) tour through Afghanistan at the time.

“It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one,” she said of the image.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tweeden said of Franken, who was then a comedian. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.”

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

Tweeden also alleged that Franken, the tour’s headliner, wrote some skits for it and told her he had created a part for her.

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

More than 50 women have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault
View the slideshow
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“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.”

Tweeden then claimed that on the day of the show, Franken repeatedly urged her to practice the kiss together, prompting her to agree “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 said.

“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,” Tweeden continued.

“All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste out of my mouth. I felt disgusted and violated.”

Tweeden noted she was sharing the account in case other people had similar experiences, and Franken later Thursday issued a statement apologizing for the incident.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” he said.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t,” Franken added. “I shouldn’t have done it.”

Tweeden’s account comes amid growing scrutiny of sexual harassment from powerful males, including lawmakers in Congress.

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