Sen. Al Franken’s first sex harassment accuser said Thursday she does “not celebrate” his resignation, but “we cannot tolerate hypocrisy.”
KABC 790AM radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden said her revelations were “not about politics,” and she thanked the senators — men and women — who called for Franken’s resignation in the wake of a number of women disclosing similar harassment experiences.
She also said she’s been the target of “vile and partisan personal attacks” since she disclosed the incidents with Franken.
“When I spoke out about how Al Franken forcibly kissed me backstage during a USO tour and groped me while I was asleep on the plane ride home, I never called for his resignation,” she said.
“He later apologized, multiple times, and I accepted his apology, but as I said in my initial statement I’m telling my story because there may be others. And there were,” she said. “Yesterday a seventh and an eighth woman spoke out, and even more have reached out to me, but are unwilling to talk to the press. After experiencing many vile and partisan personal attacks on my credibility since I went public, I don’t blame these women one bit.”
Franken, a Minnesota Democrat and former comedian who gained famed on “Saturday Night Live,” previously apologized to Tweeden, the news anchor on “McIntyre in the Morning” on KABC Radio. Franken said he had a different recollection of the skit rehearsal, but said he welcomed a Senate ethics investigation into the allegation.
Since then, however, multiple women have accused Franken of groping them. Under increasing pressure from his Democratic colleagues, Franken announced that he will be resigning in the coming weeks.
Tweeden decried Franken’s actions.
“All our nearly identical experiences show that this was not a onetime failure of judgment on Senator Franken’s part, it was a clear pattern of behavior. I want to thank the women of the United States Senate who stood up yesterday and said this cannot continue. I want to thank their male colleagues who have joined them,” she said.
“This has never been about politics. This is about telling the truth, and not letting fear silence us. As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said yesterday, “…what message do we send to our sons and daughters when we accept gradations of crossing the line? None of it is OK and none of it should be tolerated. While I do not celebrate Senator Franken’s resignation, we cannot tolerate hypocrisy. We must be able to trust and respect our leaders.”
Tweeden accused Franken of forcing himself on her with an unwanted kiss while they were rehearsing a USO Tour skit 11 years ago, and of groping her while she slept on an airplane at the end of the tour. A photo that showed Franken appearing to grope the sleeping Tweeden on the plane went viral on the Internet.