Leeann Tweeden joined the #MeToo movement on Thursday, accusing U.S. Sen. Al Franken of non-consensually kissing and groping her.
"I’ve decided it’s time to tell my story #MeToo," the 44-year-old TV personality/model tweeted. The alleged sexual misconduct took place during a USO Tour in 2006, Tweeden writes in an article published via TalkRadio 790 KABC, the L.A. radio station where she works as a morning anchor.
While rehearsing a sketch, Franken, who was a comic/talk show host at the time, "aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth," Tweeden writes, adding that he "relentlessly badgered" her into rehearsing the scene. She shoved the future Democratic senator from Minnesota away, and was left feeling "disgusted and violated," she writes.
Later, on the plane trip back from Afghanistan, Franken was photographed grabbing Tweeden's chest while she was asleep.
"You knew exactly what you were doing," Tweeden writes, describing Franken's actions as "sexual assault." "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."
Franken issued the following statement Thursday morning:
"I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."
Tweeden's article concludes:
"While debating whether or not to go public, I even thought to myself, so much worse has happened to so many others, maybe my story isn’t worth telling? But my story is worth telling. Not just because 2017 is not 2006, or because I am much more secure in my career now than I was then, and not because I’m still angry. I’m telling my story because there may be others ... I want the days of silence to be over forever."
An hour after Tweeden's allegations went public, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an ethics review into the matter. McConnell, a Republican, is currently deciding how to handle claims of sexual misconduct directed at his own party: Roy Moore, the Republican senate candidate in Alabama, was recently accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls decades ago.
UPDATE: Later Thursday morning, Franken issued a second apology and a lengthy statement addressing Leann Tweeden's story.