This week, actress Heather Lind accused former president George H. W. Bush of “sexual harassment” in 2014, when Bush was 91 years old and already in a wheelchair, saying he patted her rear end and made an off-color joke. Bush apologized through his spokesman on Wednesday morning, saying, “President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”
Wednesday afternoon, Bush decided to head off other accusers who might pop up to accuse him of “sexual harassment” for patting their rear ends, issuing a statement saying, “On occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; some clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”
Meanwhile, Deadspin reported that it had discovered the "dirty joke" Lind referred to in her statement: "More than a year ago, a tipster passed word about the Heather Lind incident to Deadspin. We were told that Bush had, during a photo opp, groped her and told her that his favorite magician was 'David Cop-a-Feel' while fondling her."
Deadspin also reported that actress Jordana Grolnick claims she had a similar experience to Lind's two years later, when she was working at a Maine production of Hunchback of Notre Dame, one performance of which Bush attended. She said, “We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him. He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”
In her accusation, made on Instagram, which she later deleted, Lind wrote:
I was disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H. W. Bush in a gathering of ex-presidents organizing aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes. I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served. And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo. He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say “not again.”
His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo. We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me. What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character. My fellow cast-mates and producers helped me that day and continue to support me. I am grateful for the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences. And I thank President Barack Obama for the gesture of respect he made toward George H. W. Bush for the sake of our country, but I do not respect him.