Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

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Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

An Army veteran and a former elected official in New England accused Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct Thursday, bringing the embattled lawmaker’s total number of accusers to six.

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN she was a 27-year-old military police officer when she met Franken in Kuwait during a USO tour in December 2003. She told the news station that as a longtime fan of “Saturday Night Live,” she got in line to meet him.

Franken was elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and previously worked as a comic and host for Air America Radio. He was a writer and sometime-actor for "Saturday Night Live" from 1977 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1995.

Kemplin told CNN that Franken put his arm around her for a photo when his hand slid over her breast.

"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," she told the news network. "I've never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast.”

She said his hand remained over her chest for five to 10 seconds before she shifted and the photo was taken.

"I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed," she said. "And I remember thinking -- is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand."

A spokesperson for Franken told CNN that the senator “takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation."

Another woman told Jezebel that Franken attempted to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” while they were onstage for an event in 2006. The woman declined to be identified because, she told Jezebel, she wanted her name associated with her accomplishments “and not publicly linked to a man’s bad behavior.”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives to speak to the media on Capitol Hill, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

The woman was chair of her town’s Selectboard when Franken invited her to appear as a guest on a live taping of his show on Air America Radio, Jezebel reported.

After the interview, as the two were still onstage, the woman said she reached toward Franken to shake his hand.

“He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open,” she said. “I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”

She called the incident demeaning.

“I felt put in my place,” she said. “It was onstage in front of a full theater. … It was in plain sight and yet nobody saw it.”

The allegations came after four other women claimed Franken made inappropriate sexual contact with them. Most of the women shared stories similar to Kemplin’s, telling reporters that Franken groped them as they posed for photos.

Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden was the first to go public with her accusations, writing in a blog for KABC earlier this month that Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her breasts for a photo as she slept while the two were on a USO tour in 2006. She shared an image of herself sleeping as Franken’s hands hovered over her chest as evidence of the incident.

Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into the incident.

"I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter," Franken said in a statement. "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."

The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday announced that it was opening a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, The Associated Press reported.

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