The allegations of sexual harassment against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) are mounting; two more women are alleging that Franken groped their rear ends in separate incidents. These allegations follow allegations in the past week from radio host Leeann Tweeden who alleged Franken groped her during a 2006 USO tour, and Lindsay Menz, who accused Franken of groping her in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair.
The two new allegations, which stemmed from Franken’s first senatorial campaign in 2007, came from women unfamiliar to each other, but their tales are similar — and they confessed the details to others years ago.
The first woman, a 38-year-old book editor, told HuffPost that her interaction with Franken came after she had performed with a feminist choir at the Women’s Political Caucus event on June 25, 2007. She stated, “My story is eerily similar to Lindsay Menz’s story. He grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”
Franken was at the event with his wife, Franni Bryson. The woman said that after the ceremony ended, members of the choir asked to take photos with Franken. The woman continued, “My mother loves Al Franken. She listened to Air America every day. I saw him and asked if we could take a photo together for my mother, and we stood next to each other ... and down his hand went.”
Two sources corroborated the woman’s story to HuffPost. The first woman’s best friend said the victim told her of the incident the day after it happened. She said, “She was in this all-women’s choir and he was at an event where she performed, and she told me that he basically grabbed her ass. It was a ‘Can you believe this happened to me?’ kind of thing.”
The first woman, who said that at the time she viewed Franken’s actions as a “party trick,” said she came forward now because Franken is “a serial groper. Only two people have come forward, and people are saying that this is a right-wing conspiracy. It’s not. I’m a liberal person. ... I voted for him after this happened.”
The second woman told several people, including HuffPo’s Zachary Roth, about the incident years ago, but said she didn’t want it reported because inappropriate behavior from men seemed to be the norm at the time.
She told HuffPost that she had been excited about attending a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, adding, “I had never attended anything like that.” But after she and her friends introduced themselves to Franken, she said, “I shook his hand, and he put his arm around my waist and held it there. Then he moved it lower and cupped my butt.”
The second woman claimed she tried to excuse herself to go to the bathroom, but Franken allegedly suggested that he go with her. Instead, she grabbed a friend and ran to the bathroom.
She continued, “My immediate reaction was disgust. But my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have that happen really deflated me. It felt like: ‘Is this really the person who is going to be in a position of power to represent our community?’”
“I was completely mortified,” she said.
Franken protested to HuffPost, “I can categorically say that I did not proposition anyone to join me in any bathroom.”
The second woman asserted, “I felt like I didn’t have a voice. This man had all of the power, all of the authority. In addition, he is a white man and I am a woman of color. I was 21 years old. And I was afraid that he would use all of those privileges to discredit me, to make me feel even smaller than I already felt.”
But now, she said, “I couldn’t see all these other women come forward and not walk the walk myself. I wanted my report to be a way for other women to say, ‘Yes, that happened to me and I don’t have to be afraid.’”
On October 12, shortly after sexual assault claims against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein exploded, the first woman posted on Facebook, “Are we all sharing which famous man has groped us? Mine’s Al Franken.”