Radio anchor says Al Franken forcibly kissed her amid USO tour - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Radio anchor says Al Franken forcibly kissed her amid USO tour

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WASHINGTON -

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on an allegation of sexual harassment against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (all times local):
  
3:20 p.m.
  
The USO says a claim that Democratic Sen. Al Franken sexually harassed a fellow performer during a 2006 tour hadn't been reported to the organization.
  
The USO, or United Service Organization, has long organized entertainment tours to serve military members overseas. Before he was elected a senator from Minnesota, Franken participated in four tours to four countries from 2003 to 2006.
  
Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken on Thursday of forcibly kissing her during a skit rehearsal in 2006. She also posted a photo in which a grinning Franken appears to be touching her breasts as she sleeps.
  
Franken apologized Thursday and said he would cooperate with an ethics investigation.
  
The USO called the allegation against Franken "deeply disturbing."
  
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3:05 p.m.
  
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says the behavior alleged against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken by a Los Angeles radio anchor is "unacceptable and deeply disappointing."
  
Leeann Tweeden says Franken forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO tour. She also posted a photo of Franken posing with his hands on her breasts as she slept.
  
The Minnesota Democrat apologized, saying he remembered his behavior differently during their rehearsal for a skit. The former comic said looking at the photo now he feels disgusted with himself.
  
Warren said she's glad Franken made the acknowledgement and has agreed to cooperate with an ethics investigation.
  
The Massachusetts Democrat says women who come forward with their stories are brave and deserve to be respected. She said the country can't fix the problem of sexual harassment until men take responsibility for their actions.
  
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2:15 p.m.
  
The Los Angeles radio anchor who accuses Democratic Sen. Al Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour says she accepts his apology but he could have apologized earlier.
  
Leeann Tweeden anchors a morning talk show for California radio station KABC. She says Franken wrote a skit for the pair during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East and insisted they practice a kiss during rehearsal.
  
During a news conference Thursday, Tweeden said Franken had been persistent and stuck his tongue in her mouth.
  
She says she has no reason not to accept his apology. She says people make mistakes.
  
She isn't calling for an ethics investigation or for the Minnesota senator to step down, but says she came forward hoping to inspire others to tell their stories.
  
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1:05 p.m.
  
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says sexual misconduct allegations against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken are "troubling" and he hopes and expects that the Senate Ethics Committee will fully investigate.
  
Schumer says, "Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated."
  
He said Thursday that a bipartisan ethics panel should "fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment."
  
A Los Angeles radio anchor accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour and of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept. The Democrat has apologized. He was not a senator at the time.
  
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12:55 p.m.
  
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is calling for an ethics investigation into his own actions after he was accused of sexually harassing a fellow performer during a 2006 USO tour.
  
Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken on Thursday of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal of a skit. Tweeden says Franken stuck his tongue in her mouth.
  
She also posted a photo of Franken taken later on the tour, with his hands on her breasts as she was sleeping.
  
Franken apologized soon after Tweeden's online essay was published, but said he didn't remember the rehearsal the same way. Hours later, he issued another statement with a fuller apology.
  
He says he doesn't "know what was in my head" when the picture was taken but says there's no excuse. He says he'll cooperate with an ethics investigation.
  
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12:30 p.m.
  
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER'-sten JIHL'-uh-brand) says the allegations against fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken are "disturbing" and should be investigated.
  
Gillibrand made the comments after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused Franken of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour and of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept. Franken has apologized.
  
Gillibrand has been outspoken about sexual harassment in the military. She stopped short of saying Franken should step aside. She said Franken's explanation that he was joking was insufficient.
  
Another Democrat says she takes the allegations seriously. Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth says, "I believe her, and if there's an ethics investigation, that should move forward as well."
  
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Noon
  
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Ethics Committee should review complaints against Democratic Sen. Al Franken after allegations that he forcibly kissed and groped a woman in 2006.
  
In a statement Thursday, the top Republican said that "with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter."
  
McConnell said he hoped Democratic leader Chuck Schumer would join him on the issue.
  
The Kentucky Republican said, "Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable_in the workplace or anywhere else."
  
The statement comes as Senate Republicans have called for Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore to step aside in the face of allegations he molested two women decades ago. McConnell had led the call. Moore has dug in, saying the allegations are false.
  
Franken apologized after Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused him on of improper conduct during a USO tour. Tweeden wrote that he insisted on rehearsing a kiss for a skit. Tweeden also wrote that Franken posed for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.
  
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11:25 a.m.
  
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says he doesn't remember a USO Tour skit "in the same way" as a fellow performer who alleges he kissed her against her will. He also says he shouldn't have posed for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.
  
Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken on Thursday of improper conduct during a tour entertaining troops in 2006. Tweeden wrote in an online essay that Franken insisted on rehearsing a skit that included a kiss between the characters, and that he forced his tongue into her mouth.
  
Franken said in a statement that he sends his "sincerest apologies" to Tweeden.
  
Tweeden also wrote that she later discovered that Franken had posed for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept on a transport plane during the tour.
  
Franken said he intended for the photo to be funny, but it wasn't.
  
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11 a.m.
  
A Los Angeles radio host says Democratic Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO tour. The host says Franken posed for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.
  
Leeann Tweeden accuses Minnesota's Franken in an essay on the website of California radio station KABC, where she anchors a morning talk show. Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit for the pair during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East and insisted they practice a kiss during rehearsal.
  
Tweeden says she tried to resist but says Franken forced himself on her and stuck his tongue in her mouth. A copy of the photo is posted with the article.
  
Franken's staff has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Text of a statement Thursday from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after he was accused of sexual harassment by fellow performer Leeann Tweeden on a 2006 USO Tour:
  
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing_and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine_is: I'm sorry.
  
"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
  
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us_including and especially men who respect women_have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
  
"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it_women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
  
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.
  
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.
  
"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
  
"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."

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