Thursday, November 16, 2017
Playmate Says Al Franken (STEIN) GROPED Her
A former Playboy Playmate accused Sen. Al Franken of groping her in a skit during a USO tour in the Middle East, leaving her feeling “disgusted and violated.”
Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor on KABC,said the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian had written the script for the December 2006 show that included him giving her a kiss.
“On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time,” she wrote on the KABC website. “He said to me, ’We need to rehearse the kiss.’ I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’”
But she said Franken, who was elected to the Senate in 2008, demanded they practice the kissing scene even after the situation was making her “uncomfortable.”
”I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she wrote.
She pushed him away and warned him that if he ever tried that again, she wouldn’t “be so nice about it the next time.”
Tweeden said she then walked away.
“All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth,” she wrote. “I felt disgusted and violated.”
In a statement, Franken said he has a different recollection of the encounter.
“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,” the statement said.
That’s different than his comments last month, when he remarked on the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein by saying the women who came forward were “incredibly brave.”
“The women who have shared their stories about Harvey Weinstein over the last few days are incredibly brave,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks.”
Tweeden said she eventually performed the skit with him, but turned her head at the critical moment so he couldn’t kiss her on the lips.
She said nobody saw her and Franken backstage and she decided not to mention it to the USO representative.
“At the time I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself. I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done and they knew how I felt about it,” she said.
While angry about the encounter, she decided to move on and tried to avoid the comedian whenever possible.
”Franken repaid me with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops,” she said.
But then she was looking at photos of her trip back to Los Angeles after the tour wrapped.
In one picture, Franken was caught with his hands on her chest while she slept while wearing a flak vest and a Kevlar helmet.
“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” she wrote. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”
Although she said she wanted to “shout my story to the world with a megaphone,” she was worried about the backlash and damage that publicly exposing the incident could cause to her broadcasting career.
“I am no longer afraid,” she wrote.
After reporting about the allegations against Weinstein and California Rep. Jackie Speier’s story of being sexually assaulted when she was a congressional aide, Tweeden realized she had to come forward.
”At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me,” she said. “I had locked up those memories of helplessness and violation for a long time, but they all came rushing back to me and my hands clinched into fists like it was yesterday.”
She said she is still angry at Franken and her reluctance to blow the whistle on him.
“Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry. I am angry that I did his stupid skit for the rest of that tour. I am angry that I didn’t call him out in front of everyone when I had the microphone in my hand every night after that,” she wrote.
“I wanted to. But I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was there to entertain the troops and make sure they forgot about where they were for a few hours. Someday, I thought to myself, I would tell my story.” she continued.
”That day is now,” she said.