Two more women have accused Al Franken of sexual misconduct, bringing the number of allegations against the Democratic senator up to six. The allegations involve inappropriate touching and an unwanted kiss, incidents the women described as leaving them feeling ashamed and demeaned.
Stephanie Kemplin, a 41-year-old Army veteran from Ohio, has accused Franklin of cupping her breast during a photo op at a USO tour in 2003 in Kuwait. She told CNN Franken placed his arm around her while they were positioning for the photo and kept his hand on her breast. The touching lasted 5–10 seconds before she shifted her body to move his hand, she told CNN.
And I remember thinking—is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand.
It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.
She is the second woman to accuse Franken of misconduct at a USO tour when he was a comedian. The first allegation against Franken was raised two weeks ago by Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden, who alleged Franken groped and forcibly kissed her during a USO tour in 2006. According to CNN, Kemplin reached out to Tweeden shortly after the latter went public with her accusations, and they spoke on the phone.
In the photo, there is no evidence of the groping, but CNN spoke to Kemplin’s sister and ex-boyfriend, both of whom said Kemplin had told them about the incident at the time.
A Franken spokesperson responded to CNN Wednesday night:
As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation.
The other woman to accuse Franken of misconduct today spoke anonymously to Jezebel and was described as a “former elected official in New England.” She told Jezebel that Franken had given her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” onstage at a live taping of his show in 2006. The woman was then working as the chair of her town’s board, and she had been invited to be interviewed on Franken’s show for progressive radio station Air America. Per Jezebel:
After the interview, the woman tells us, “I reached out my hand to shake his.” Then, she says, “He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open. I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”
The woman says she was in disbelief. “I was stunned and incredulous. I felt demeaned. I felt put in my place.”
She said that although the taping was in front of a large audience, no one noticed the kiss.
The woman said she wanted to remain anonymous to keep her name “associated with [her] own accomplishments,” according to Jezebel.
The other women who have accused Franken in recent weeks include Lindsay Menz, who said Franken grabbed her butt while she took a photo with Franken at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, and two anonymous women who told the Huffington Post that Franken had groped them in 2007 and 2008.
Franken, who entered the Senate in 2009, has spoken about his “shame and embarrassment” over the allegations and called on the Senate Ethics Committee to look into his behavior, but he maintains he does not remember the alleged incidents. He returned to the Senate on Monday.