An Army veteran claims Democratic Sen. Al Franken assaulted her during his tour with the USO in 2003, when he was a comedian, by groping her while posing for a photo.
Stephanie Kemplin, who was stationed in the Middle East during Franken’s now infamous tour to entertain the troops, is the fifth woman to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct in the past few weeks, and the third to do so on the record.
Kemplin, 41, tells CNN that during Franken’s visit she lined up to take a picture with the Saturday Night Live writer, and that he touched her inappropriately.
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin told CNN. “I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side.”
She did not say anything to Franken at the time, but remembers thinking that “It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident.”
“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” Kemplin said. “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.”
Kemplin says she didn’t tell any fellow soldiers about the incident, but has discussed it with multiple family members. “I was in a war zone… You were on a USO tour,” Kemplin said, referring to Franken. “Are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own? I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”
Kemplin, who was honorably discharged according to CNN, says that she was also assaulted by a fellow service member before her photo with Franken, but did not disclose the details of that incident.
During the same 2003 USO tour with Franken, news anchor and former model Leeann Tweeden says Franken forcibly kissed her during a rehearsal and later took a photo of him touching her chest while she slept.
Kemplin’s accusation is similar to another woman’s story of a photo with Franken. Lindsay Menz, now 33, said that during a photo op at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, Franken, then a senator, touched her bottom and made her feel “gross.” Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
Franken responded to the allegations briefly on Nov. 24, but said he didn’t remember Menz. “I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again,” Franken told CNN. (RELATED: Al Franken Spends Thanksgiving Feeling Sorry He ‘Made Some Women Feel Badly)
“Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that,” Franken said. “I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations.”
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