MINNESOTA (CNN) — The woman who accused Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken of groping and kissing her without her consent in 2006 while she was on a USO Tour overseas has accepted his apology.
On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio anchor and model, said she accepted Franken’s apology but hoped it would have happened earlier.
Tweeden posted her story in a lengthy post on her station’s website, TalkRadio 790 KABC.
Tweeden described the harassment as being part of a script for a USO skit where Franken wrote where he’s supposed to kiss her. She writes that Franken repeatedly insisted they rehearse the kissing scene despite her protests. When she relented, Franken, “put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
“Senator Franken, you wrote the script,” Tweeden wrote. “But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault.”
She also included a photo in which Franken appears to grabbing Tweeden’s breast while she’s asleep. She said she wasn’t aware that it had happened until she saw the photo on a CD given to attendees by the photographer.
“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” Tweeden writes. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”
The post does not address whether Franken was reached out to for comment in advance of publishing and includes no comment from Franken or his office.
In a statement to reporters, Franken said he doesn’t remember the forced kissing, but said he shouldn’t have conducted his behavior as he did in the photo.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
Tweeden said she’s coming forward now after hearing testimony from women — including California Democratic Rep. Jack Speier — who have shared similar stories of men in power who have committed sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“I want to have the same effect on them that Congresswoman Jackie Speier had on me,” Tweeden wrote. “I want them, and all the other victims of sexual assault, to be able to speak out immediately, and not keep their stories — and their anger — locked up inside for years, or decades.”
On Thursday, Sen. Franken released a statement about the incident:
“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.”
(©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)