- TV host Leeann Tweeden said at a press conference that she accepts the apology of Al Franken, the Minnesota senator who allegedly sexually assaulted her in 2006.
- Tweeden wrote in a column on Tuesday that Franken forcefully kissed her and groped her without permission in 2006.
- She said she hoped her allegations would prompt other women to share their own experiences.
Los Angeles broadcaster Leeann Tweeden said Thursday afternoon she hoped her explosive allegations against Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota would encourage other women to come forward with their own stories of sexual assault or harassment.
“This is happening to women who have no power and no way to speak up,” she said at a press conference. “I think the tide is turning, and what about all the women who don’t have microphones and a voice and can say something and it’s all over the news?”
Tweeden wrote in a 790 KABC column that Franken had kissed and groped her without consent in 2006, when the pair were on tour abroad performing for military service members. She alleged that Franken aggressively kissed her, sticking his tongue in her mouth during a rehearsal for a comedy skit.
On the tour’s flight back to the United States, Franken groped Tweeden’s breasts while she was asleep – an act Tweeden discovered afterwards when she saw a photograph.
Franken has issued two statements on the allegations since Tweeden’s column was published, apologizing to her but saying he remembered the incidents differently. He called for an ethics investigation into himself, saying he will “gladly cooperate.”
Tweeden said at the press conference that she accepted Franken’s apology, adding that she “wasn’t looking for anything” from the allegations, such as a resignation from Franken.
“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t accept his apology. Sure,” she said. “People make mistakes. I’m not calling for him to step down. That’s not my place to say that. If there are other people who come out and say he’s done this, I don’t know.”
She added that she wasn’t demanding an ethics investigation into Franken, like some top senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, called for.
“The ethics investigation – if that’s what Mitch McConnell wants to do – I’m not calling for that … I’m not demanding any of that,” Tweeden said.
She added that she had been inspired to come forward in part by California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who spoke on 790 KABC about her own experience being forcibly kissed by a superior when she was a young Congressional aide.
Tweeden said Speier’s recollection, of a man she did not identify who “held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth,” had similarities to her own experience with Franken.
“That was my catalyst to go, ‘If I’m going to tell my story, now is the time,’ Tweeden said. “Maybe I can be somebody’s Jackie Speier, and they can tell their story in real time.”