In the essay, entitled "Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There's Nothing Funny About It", Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit for the pair during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East and insisted they practice a kiss during rehearsal.
Leeann Tweeden published her allegations Thursday morning on the website of KABC Radio in Los Angeles. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed", wrote Tweeden.
In a statement, Franken said he had a different account of the rehearsal and regrets taking the picture. While her usual role was to emcee the show and introduce performers, she said she agreed to participate in a sketch Franken had written with her in mind. She says Franken told her "we need to rehearse the kiss".
She said, "As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be amusing, and I agreed to play along". During the broadcast, Speier told us her story of being sexually assaulted when she was a young Congressional aide. "I've realized that the disappointing responses women often face when they go public both embolden harassers and encourage victims to stay silent", he wrote.
At the time, Franken was performing as a professional comedian before running for the Senate.
Tweeden said she pushed Franken away and walked away from him, seeking a bathroom "to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth".
That allegation of sexual assault and harassment comes amid a wave of similar accusations against high-profile entertainers and politicians. "Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it's amusing?" "I'm no longer afraid". Will he react the same way to the allegations against Franken, which are barely 10 years old?
Al Franken and Leann Tweeden entertain the Soldiers with a skit at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq Dec 16.
Since the outing last summer of Hollywood movie moguls Harvey Weinstein and James Toback as a serial sexual abusers and assaulters of hundreds of women, America's cultural dam has burst forth with harrowing stories of women victimized and cowed into silence by men in positions of power. As to the photo, it was clearly meant to be amusing but wasn't.
In his 2017 book, Franken wrote that he "wasn't sorry" for the joke, which he called "stupid".