MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Los Angeles radio news anchor and model is accusing Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of kissing her without consent and touching her breasts while she was asleep.

In an article on KABC.com Thursday, news anchor Leeann Tweeden says that Franken sexually assaulted her in 2006 while the two were on a tour in the Middle East to entertain troops.

According to Tweeden, the former SNL comedian kissed her without consent while rehearsing a skit. Later, a photo was taken of Franken touching her chest while she slept on a plane.

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

In a speech in support of the USO on the Senate floor years later, Franken spoke of the tour, and Tweeden.

“During the show, I was a co-host with a beautiful woman named Leann Tweeden,” he said.

Tweeden says she is sharing her story now to encourage victims of sexual assault to speak out immediately and not keep their stories to themselves.

RELATED: Democratic Lawmakers Speak Out On Franken Allegations

About an hour after her article was posted, Franken apologized to Tweeden.

In a statement released Thursday morning, the Democratic senator said that he was wrong to touch Tweeden’s chest, even as a joke.

“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.”

Sources also tell CNN an emotional and upset Franken apologized to his staff after the accusations became public Thursday. He hasn’t spoken to most of his colleagues, according to CNN, and he hasn’t appeared at any Senate votes or a scheduled Democratic lunch.

In an afternoon press conference, Tweeden said that she isn’t calling for the senator to resign. “It’s not my place,” she said.

In Washington, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the Ethics Committee to investigate.

“I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” he said in a statement. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Minnesota lawmakers condemned the former comedian’s actions — including Franken’s colleague, Sen. Amy Klobuchar — and joined calls for the ethics committee investigation.

“This is another example of why we need to change work environments and reporting practices across the nation, including in Congress,” she said.

In Franken’s statement, he welcomed calls for an ethics committee investigation.

“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,” he said in the statement.

Late Thursday evening, President Trump weighed in on the accusations, referencing a controversial joke Franken reportedly made in the Saturday Night Live writers’ room, which was overheard by a reporter:

Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, is calling on Franken to resign.

“When you look at what’s gone on in the entertainment industry with Kevin Spacey, the allegations coming out about him with Harvey Weinstein. There’s been quick and decisive action,” Carnahan said. “When you see these things happening in politics, the issue is around sexual harassment and harassment, there should just be no tolerance for it.”

Should Franken choose to resign, or if the ethics committee investigation leads to a vote to remove him from office, Gov. Mark Dayton would be responsible for appointing a replacement, with a special election to follow in 2018. Franken’s term lasts until 2020.

Franken was first elected to the Senate in 2009. He is currently serving in his second term.

The accusations against the senator, who is from St. Louis Park, are the latest in a string of incidents in which Hollywood elites, actors and politicians have been called out for alleged incidents of sexual assault and misconduct.

Comments (19)
  1. Greg Roe says:

    There have been a lot of these kind of accusations lately, but I don’t remember any others that actually have photographic evidence. I would expect that Franken would resign from office immediately to avoid further embarrassment to the state of Minnesota.

    1. jb80538 says:

      He’s a democrat. He’s not going to resign. The only reason he even apologized is that there is a photo of him being stupid.

  2. Sexual harassment? No. We have proof he sexually assaulted a model during a USO tour in a war zone. This is unacceptable. The photo is right there. Franken needs to resign immediately. The longer he waits, the more damage he causes this country. The man needs to be arrested, photographed, fingerprinted and registered as a sexual predator. If he does not leave office today, the senate should take action to remove Al Franken from his seat.

  3. Eric C Spero says:

    Will this even show up on the nightly news, MSN, CNN, PBS, et als? Nope. This story dies here and most of AMerica will NEVER see this horrid photo because, as the 1990’s taught us, only some sexual misconduct by a politician can be taken seriously.

  4. voodoodaddy1 says:

    Photo evidence of sexual assault. Where are you Rachel Maddow? Where are all of you Left wingers that attacked Trump for SUGGESTING he could get away with it. Where are you Streep? Where are you NBC? Where are you Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein etc. etc???

    Franken has only ONE option – resign in disgrace.

  5. Sexual predators like Franken don’t resign. They try to convince everyone else they’re OK. You won’t see Franking resigning, he needs to be ousted.

  6. Calling Gloria Alread . . . . Gloria? Oh Gloria, where are you??? If there is one victim of assault by the ugly, slimy, disgusting Frankenstein, you know there are more. Gloria, where the hell are you? Surely you’re going to jump on this case, right? Where is she? Has anyone seen Gloria lately? We all remember when she rushed to the aid of Paula Jones, Kathleen Wiley and Juanita Broderick, right? Would someone check and see if Gloria is hiding under her desk? I’m sure she’s just dying to add this case to her stack.

  7. Mike Rice says:

    Does anyone really think Al actually touched that woman’s breasts while allowing a photograph to be taken of it. There are other people around that photo. The woman herself is not a reliable witness. They’ll have to be interviewed. LeeAnn is a newsperson, she needs testimony from the others who witnessed this photograph before she writes a story. Take note editiors at KABC790 radio in LA. Since she wasn’t awake, she’s NOT a reliable witness.

  8. So many double standards in the media. Ugly women don’t get flowers or love letters from ugly men because people go to HR right away when Ugly people try to date.

    Ashley Judd went to a TSA Supervisor right away when an “Average joe” called her a sweetheart.