Al Franken's Turn

2 years ago

Maybe we should just burn it all down and start over!

Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It

By Leeann Tweeden

In December of 2006, I embarked on my ninth USO Tour to entertain our troops, my eighth to the Middle East since the 9/11 attacks. My father served in Vietnam and my then-boyfriend (and now husband, Chris) is a pilot in the Air Force, so bringing a ‘little piece of home’ to servicemembers stationed far away from their families was both my passion and my privilege.

Also on the trip were country music artists Darryl Worley, Mark Wills, Keni Thomas, and some cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys. The headliner was comedian and now-senator, Al Franken.

Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.

As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.

When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. 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.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. 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.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I 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.

I felt disgusted and violated.

Not long after, I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips.

No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the Sergeant Major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.

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.

I tried to let it go, but I was angry.

Other than our dialogue on stage, I never had a voluntary conversation with Al Franken again. I avoided him as much as possible and made sure I was never alone with him again for the rest of the tour.

Franken repaid me with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops.

But he didn’t stop there.

The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.

It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:

I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.

I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?

I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.

I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.

But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.

Today, I am the news anchor on McIntyre in the Morning on KABC Radio in Los Angeles. My colleagues are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever worked with in my career. Like everyone in the media, we’ve been reporting on the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations since they broke, and the flood of similar stories that have come out about others.

A few weeks ago, we had California Congresswoman Jackie Speier on the show and she told us her story of being sexually assaulted when she was a young Congressional aide. She described how a powerful man in the office where she worked ‘held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth.’

At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me.

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.

I’m still angry at what Al Franken did to me.

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. 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.

That day is now.

Comments (290)

  • whynottryit




    1. behavior that demonstrates a playful sexual attraction to someone:

      "Fabia was in no mood for his lighthearted flirtation"

      synonyms: coquetry · teasing · trifling

    • a short or casual relationship:

      "she had had plenty of flirtations—now she had fallen in love"

    • a short period of casual experimentation with or interest in a particular idea or activity:

      "his brief flirtation with the avant-garde in the 1920s

  • maifleur01

    I have to agree with mimi. This will get out of hand unless something happens to show people that the allegations/charges were a major error. The problem with that in this day of media and sharing things not everyone will know that the original information was wrong. The person/s that were charged in error will never get their livelihood or social standing back.

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  • mrskjun

    whynot, 14 women accused Clinton of sexual assault. Sexual assault is not consensual sex. And Kate, I do know that rape is also sexual assault. But Juanita Broaddrick is the only one who accused him of forcible rape.

    wtg chase, Hillary would love you. Blame the victim.

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)

    But what makes you so sure they were charged in error?

  • lilacinjust

    wtg chase, Hillary would love you. Blame the victim.


    Well, mrskjun, someone's got to be on top of all of those bimbo eruptions!

    Say, someone quick! Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park and let's see what shakes out!

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)

    Why are you returning over and over again to what Bill Clinton did in the 1990s--over 25 years ago!

    Most of us here are concerned with our current crop of lawmakers--and there are enough examples of sexual misdeeds in the current crop to keep us busy for some time.

    Yet you keep trying to change the subject and return to people who haven't been in office for a long time now. How does that help solve the problems of the current generation of politicians?


  • lilacinjust

    Maybe, if word of our #metoo revolution makes its way across the Pond, the co-ed Bill allegedly raped at Oxford will come forward.

  • lilacinjust

    The Dems want it both ways. Don't delve into their pasts-oh, no, no,no- just keep on focusing on Republicans going back some 40 years...

  • chase_gw

    Mrs, you really need to read Ann's post and then talk to me about blaming the victim.

    I don't happen to believe Paula Jones was a victim.

    I will never be one who says just because they say so it is, true.

    The entire situation needs to be judged in context.

    I make no appology for that

  • whynottryit

    Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States (1993–2001), has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by three women: Juanita Broaddrick accuses Clinton of raping her in 1978; Kathleen Willey accuses Clinton of groping her without consent in 1993; and Paula Jones accuses Clinton of exposing himself to her in 1991 and sexually harassing her. The allegations generally became public during the 1998-99 time period, toward the end of Clinton's second term as president.

    Clinton has adamantly denied all three of these sexual misconduct accusations. Through his representatives, Clinton has responded to the allegations by attempting to discredit the credibility of the accusers, noting that (in the case of Broaddrick and Willey) they previously testified, under oath, that Clinton never made unwanted advances. Several witnesses close to Willey and Jones state that the two women described their encounter with Clinton as consensual. From Wikipedia

    A couple of questions. One, who are the other 11? Two, Clinton adamantly denied these accusations just as Trump and Moore have. Why is he more guilty than they are? I don't remember 14 from the days of the Ken Starr investigations. I remember the stories of Paula Jones and meeting him in a hotel with his Arkansas State Police. I remember the affair with Gennifer Flowers. I remember Juanita Broderick saying it was consensual and Monica Lewinsky not bring charges herself. Bill is a philanderer or maybe was, no clue there but he's been tried, he's no longer president, his wife lost the election, they've had their reputations sullied and deservedly so. However, his conduct is not worse than the man who is now in office, who is the champion of the religious right and who, apparently, can do no wrong. Nor is Clinton's behavior worse than that of the Judge who prefers young girls and who thinks he is free to rule as he wants with no respect for the laws of the land. I'm trying to deal with the present. The people in office who can affect our future now, not some irrelevant president from 30 yrs ago who can do nothing to affect what happens in Congress or the Oval Office today. Why is that such a difficult concept?

  • Ziemia

    So, if you do not know the end --- don't make changes. That's what some of you seem to think.

    Most of the accusations are based on something. We've seen the photo of Franken.

    There are a LOT of men who are not like those who step over the line. A whole lot.

    This is NOT tearing apart the whole world. For some, this does mean change and change can be tough.

    I was warned, by an officer of the company (HR head), when I started work, that there would be things that I might not be able to handle. Well, weird things happened but none that I couldn't handle. And the women who came along afterwards have had fewer weird things happen to them.

    Do not be afraid of watershed changes. Be aware.

  • whynottryit

    Crossed posts, Kate. Sorry.

  • CindyMac

    Yet you keep trying to change the subject and return to people who haven't been in office for a long time now. How does that help solve the problems of the current generation of politicians?

    Easier than looking in the mirror.

  • Ziemia

    Clinton's presidential library is paid for by private money, so it's not the people's decision to tear it down.

    As far as rescinding Clinton's presidency - well, that's kinda inviting the question of who was as bad as he was? Anyone worse? I don't think it works that way -- but go out and find or start the movement.

    Can someone explain to me how Bill Clinton's sexual activity is relative to the 45th presidency or the 115th Congress?

    ETA: LOL whynot ---- you beat me to it.

  • whynottryit

    Can someone explain to me how Bill Clinton's sexual activity is relative to the 45th presidency or the 115th Congress?


  • althea_gw

    "Gonna go see if I can find out what the under 40 people think about it.

    Anyone have any suggestions?"

    Fkameanmom, I checked "Millennials for Rev" on my Twitter to see their thoughts. Nothing. They haven't posted or retweeted a thing about it. It is Noam Chomsky's birthday today so there are 2 "happy birthday" greetings to him, and retweets of important articles and comments on others issues. I know it's a pretty select group, not a broad representation of younger people, but they are politically active and surely aware of the events.


  • Pidge

    Ann, if a 14 year old "flirts" with a 32 year old .....who is in charge?


    If a 21-year old flirts with a 49-year old man who is the most powerful person on the planet...who is in charge?

    In both cases, the man in power is in charge..

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)

    That was too easy, wasn't it, Pidge!

    Imagine someone not knowing that answer--at least I assume that is why the stupid question was asked in the first place.


  • Ziemia

    althea --- that twitter feed is so inspiring. So normal. Here's two random ones

  • althea_gw

    I liked this one:

  • jillinnj

    chase, Hillary would love you. Blame the victim.

    Talk to your buddy Ann...

    I couldn't help but wonder how much intense flirting is happening from women and how much this might contribute to misbehavior on a man's part.

    ^^^OMG. Just OMG. I don't even know what to say. Un-freaking-believable.

    Wait...I do know what to say.....


    Get it?

    Is that what you taught your son? If they look at you with a sweet smile, it means yes, even if they say no?

  • chase_gw

    Why does Mrs Cleaver come to mind ?

  • jillinnj

    It just dawned on me...

    I was confused by all the conservative’s talk of the dems not really caring about the issue and just using Franken as a pawn. Why would they be against a democrat stepping down due to sexual assault or harassment claims?

    But now I get it...

    They’re setting up their defense for why Moore should not step down. And of course why their hero in the Oval Office shouldn’t either. Because they don’t understand the concept of doing the right thing based on principles. They only understand justifying anything to keep their “win”.

    You know...the ends justify the means...to those that are morally bankrupt.

  • heri_cles

    Franken should resign when Trump resigns , not before.

  • josephene_gw

    Someone tell us more about President Clintons bachelor pad. Wow!

  • josephene_gw

    If a 21yr old woman offers a 49 yr old man something he only dreams of

    whatsa man to do?

  • josephene_gw

    Back to Al . I admire him for stepping down.

    wish there were more honorable men.

    not excusing him for anything he did that was totally inappropate.

  • SandyC.

    " why does Mrs Cleaver come to mind?"

    More like living in a Fox cable, bigoted, misogynistic bubble.

    The same person believes there's really not much racism anymore. Lol lol lol

    The same person was thrilled a racist ex sheriff was pardoned for racially profiling US citizens in immigrant communities for years. She claimed to feel safe knowing all of those "immgrants" were racially profiled and stopped according to their ethnicity by a racist law enforcement department.

    Look who was elected president! A man who promised his voters a Muslim ban and a wall!

    If you don't believe it exists, it's true, I guess.

    Do people not travel, read, or are they so entenched in their little bubble they just ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist, because they never experienced it.

  • Maddie AtHome

    They’re setting up their defense for why Moore should not step down. And
    of course why their hero in the Oval Office shouldn’t either. Because
    they don’t understand the concept of doing the right thing based on
    principles. They only understand justifying anything to keep their

    Yep. Such a see-through.

  • Margo

    Did BIG AL actually resign? I have been to busy to keep up but I asked my husband and he said something about resigning in 3 weeks?? Maybe it is BiG Toadie Franken that is waiting to see if Moore wins the election and then will pull a bait and switch??

  • THOR, Son of ODIN

    Maybe Al Franken should just switch parties.

  • cattyles

    Or maybe Franken is resigning because of the pressure placed on him by his party? Margo, do you think the Repubs will do the same with Moore?

  • Margo

    cattyles- has Moore been found guilty?

  • rob333 (zone 7a)

    Has Franken been judged guilty?

  • cattyles

    Margo, I really am sorry I asked you a serious question. The next time I feel like being silly and throwing out dueling memes, I will check to see if you are around. Have a great Friday.

  • whynottryit

    I hate to do this but I really feel that we need to, yet again, explain the difference between being "found guilty" in a court of law and being judged for fitness for a position in government by the court of public opinion. The two are not intrinsically tied together. One, if found guilty, is punishable under the laws of the land which usually involves a fine or jail time. The legal system requires evidence and witness statements and a jury of twelve to determine the verdict. That is the court of law.

    The second, the court of public opinion, does not require such evidence, only the belief by enough of the public to sway opinion--let me emphasize that word--opinion to a particular idea or piece of information. This court does not punish with a fine or jail time or does it have any legal weight. However, if judged unfit for any reason, the person (or product) is either shunned, ousted, or boycotted.

    To conflate these two and expect legal action from public opinion is a fool's errand. What Al Franken did was bow to public opinion and his fellow Senate members. What happened with Trump is that he's a better barker. He managed to sway enough of the public to his brand that he won the election in the electoral college (though not the popular vote). What is happening in Alabama with Roy Moore is another trial by public opinion and the verdict will reflect the attitude and will of the voters but will not reflect the laws of the state.

  • Ann

    Beverly Nelson out with "more" truth about the yearbook today:)

  • Margo


    Margo, I really am sorry I asked you a serious question. The next time I feel like being silly and throwing out dueling memes, I will check to see if you are around. Have a great Friday.

    Sounds good to me cattyles. Not like anything is going to change with what we say on HT.

    whynottryit thanked Margo
  • SandyC.
    The Trump/ Moore supporters will continue the stupid comment, "has Moore been found guilty?"
    They are completely on board with an accused child molester, who believes America was "great" when families were together. Sure there was slavery, but America was great.
    Racists that were happy the ex sheriff was pardoned by tRump support Moore.
    Their behavior is not only showing they will overlook child molestation, they want him in the senate as a voice for the Bannon, far right white nationalism, they voted for.
    Moore does not believe Islam is a religion, and that no US Muslim should serve in congress, he believes homosexuality is a crime. He is like everybody's old, crazy, racist uncle, nobody listens to, and also Putin.
    Moore has found a base with the tRump voter, make no mistake. tRump and the GOP have fully supported this ungodly man, this is their party, now.
    whynottryit thanked SandyC.
  • whynottryit

    Not like anything is going to change with what we say on HT.

    I know I'm just one person but my exposure to the people on HT has changed me. I am more careful about what I say and making sure I have a source to back it up. If I voice an opinion, I make sure that is well stated. I am more prone to research and pay attention to more than just my gut to determine my position on a matter. So, I can't say I agree with you. I think we can change some things with what we say on HT.

  • whynottryit

    Just ran across this clip of Roy Moore - probably should post on the Roy Moore thread but it speaks to what SandyC just said.

    Roy Moore

  • mrskjun

    Here you go whynot.


    whynottryit thanked mrskjun
  • mrskjun

    chase, you don't believe a victim of Bill Clinton, are there any victims you do believe?

    whynottryit thanked mrskjun
  • Ziemia

    Whynot, you took the time to explain your position and your work to describe is appreciated.

    whynottryit thanked Ziemia
  • chase_gw

    Mrs there are many I believe and some I don't. Is that different than you.?

    whynottryit thanked chase_gw
  • jillinnj

    Here you go whynot.

    Where did whynot ask for a source about Clinton?


    Mrs there are many I believe and some I don't.

    Ah, but the objection MrsK has is that some of the ones you don't believe accused a democrat. For some, it's hard to understand that not everyone makes their decision based on the accused political party.

  • whynottryit

    Jill, at some point, earlier in this thread, or perhaps another thread, (there are so many), mrsk talked about 14 Clinton accusers and I asked who they were since I could find only 3 along with Gennifer Flowers. I believe she is answering that question. However, I am not sure of the accuracy of the story since Breitbart is part of the article's sourcing. I haven't tried to backtrack any of the names myself yet so I can't say one way or the other whether the information provided in it is credible.

  • jillinnj

    Thanks for the clarification, whynot. And if that's what MrsK was replying to, then I apologize to MrsK.

    You can imagine why one would think she was replying to your request to Ann for a source to her news story, but I get that things move quickly here sometimes.

  • whynottryit

    Yes, Jill. I knew that was why you were questioning it. I did so myself at first and then realized what she was answering. It was a bit confusing.

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