A Second Woman Is Claiming That Al Franken Groped Her
Less than a week after a woman came forward alleging sexual misconduct by the Democratic politician, a second woman accused Sen. Al Franken of assault, telling CNN he inappropriately touched her in 2010. In a Twitter post on Thursday, Lindsay Menz first alleged Franken "grabbed" her while taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair, and CNN published a report on the same allegations Monday.
Menz's account is the first allegation of assault against Franken while he was a sitting U.S. senator. (Bustle has reached out to Franken for comment.)
Menz, 33, accused Franken of grabbing her butt while her husband took their picture; Franken has told CNN he doesn't remember taking it at all. "I felt violated & embarassed," Menz wrote on Twitter, using the #MeToo hashtag. She also stood by Leeann Tweeden, the woman who accused Franken of groping and forcing a kiss on her in 2006:
I 100% believe your account of him & his actions.
Going into more detail, Menz told CNN:
[He] pulled me 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. ... It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt.
She also claimed Franken kept his hand there for three or four seconds.
In a statement to CNN, Franken said he didn't recall the incident. He did not deny the allegations.
I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.
Menz's husband and parents confirmed that she immediately told them about the alleged groping after it happened. Her mother told CNN she remembers her daughter's husband telling her, "Our senator just groped my wife right in front of me."
According to CNN, Menz contacted the news organization the same day that Tweeden published her accusations against Franken. Tweeden, a radio host in California, posted a photo showing Franken grabbing her breasts while she was asleep. She also alleged that he forcibly kissed her while warming up for a show to entertain U.S. troops serving in the Middle East. Franken was a comedian at the time, and he took office as a U.S. senator three years later.
"It was clearly intended to be funny," read Franken's initial statement about the photo with Tweeden. "But [it] wasn't. I shouldn't have done it." In a second statement, the Minnesota senator apologized to Tweeden and called for an ethics investigation to look into his own behavior:
I respect women. 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 ashamed.
Following Tweeden's accusations of misconduct, Senate Democrats asked the bipartisan ethics committee to investigate. "Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted about the allegations Thursday. However, the Senate Ethics Committee has not made an announcement about whether it will investigate Franken or not.
Menz told CNN she's never forgotten the alleged incident at the Minnesota State Fair.
I felt gross. It'd be like being walking through the mall and some random person grabbing your butt. ... You just feel gross. Like ew, I want to wash that off of me.
Menz also explained that she wouldn't have shared her accusations against the senator if Tweeden hadn't done so first. "The reason I want to say something," she said, "is if someone sees that I said something, maybe it would give them the courage to say something too."