WASHINGTON – After last week a woman complained to the media that Sen. Al Franken had sexually harassed her when he was working as a comedian, a second woman accused the Democrat on Monday of having touched her inappropriately, this time when he was a member of Congress.
According to the account provided to CNN by the alleged victim, Lindsay Menz, the incident took place at a 2010 Minnesota state fair, two years after Franken was elected to represent that state in the Senate.
The 33-year-old Menz, who currently resides in Frisco, Texas, said that when she was posing for a photo with the senator at the request of her husband, Franken grabbed her buttocks.
Franken pulled her “in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear. It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek,” said Menz in an interview.
“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt. I was like, oh my God, what’s happening,” she added.
In a statement sent to CNN, Franken said he did not remember the incident, given that “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture.”
Franken told CNN that “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
The accusation comes after last Thursday radio host and model Leeann Tweeden said that in 2006, when she and Franken were participating in an entertainment tour for US troops in the Middle East, the then-comedian behaved with her in an inappropriate manner while they were rehearsing for a skit that he had written.
“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 wrote on the blog of the KABC radio station, where she works.
In a separate incident during the entertainers’ flight back to the US on a military transport plane, Franken posed for a photo in which he appears to grope Tweeden’s breasts while she is sleeping.
The 66-year-old Franken, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014 for a second six-year term, apologized for his actions in a statement.
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent,” he wrote.
While he said there was no excuse for the photo, he said he had a different recollection concerning the rehearsal of the sketch.
“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate,” Franken wrote.
“While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”
The incidents came to light amid the debate in the US about sexual abuse after numerous accusations of sexual harassment and abuse leveled at powerful men in the world of film and politics.