A former Senate aide is alleging that former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who resigned in disgrace in January 2018, grabbed her buttocks without her consent in 2006.
“I was just out of college in my first job, working for U.S. Senator Patty Murray,” the unnamed woman told New York Magazine.
The woman worked the photo line, and when it was her turn to be photographed with Franken, she said, “he puts his hand on my ass. He’s telling the photographer, ‘Take another one. I think I blinked. Take another one.’ And I’m just frozen. It’s so violating. And then he gives me a little squeeze on my buttock, and I am bright red. I don’t say anything at the time, but I felt deeply, deeply uncomfortable.”
A military veteran who is now a senior staffer at a major progressive organization, she is the ninth woman to accuse Franken of inappropriate conduct and the fourth to say Franken grabbed her butt. New York also spoke to three individuals in whom she had confided after the first Franken accusations emerged; she says that she did not tell anyone about the incident after it happened out of embarrassment.
The woman said she cried when she first heard of other allegations against Franken.
“I really considered adding my voice,” she told the magazine, but said a bad experience with another boss kept her from coming forward. She also worried she’d never get another job. “I know that anything can be used as a flag to say, ‘Not this person.’ The idea that I would not get a job and would always wonder: Was it the article where I was the one who was raising my hand against a powerful man?” she said.
After allegations initially emerged, Franken at first denied that he’d done what the alleged victims said he’d done. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Others I remember very differently.”
But as more and more women came forward to make allegations, 36 Democratic senators agreed that Franken should resign. But after he did, Franken said he thought he would’ve been cleared at the conclusion of a planned Senate investigation. “I said at the outset that the Ethics Committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard and investigated and evaluated on their merits. That I was prepared to cooperate fully and that I was confident in the outcome.”
Franken also lashed out at President Trump.
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape on a history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”
The newest allegation comes just as Franken is debuting a new radio show on Sirius XM. And on Thursday, Franken appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show.
The late night talk show host praised the “Me Too” movement, but added: “Many people think that your case … it made them feel uneasy, and there was some questions and uneasiness about your particular situation and how it was resolved.”
Franken painted himself as a victim.
“When this first happened, if you had asked me — ‘Have you ever made a woman feel uncomfortable by the way you put your arm around her or touched her or something like that?’ — I would have said no,” Franken said. “And after all these allegations came in, I thought, well, I must be doing something wrong, right? Ever since, I’ve been a lot more mindful in my interactions with pretty much everyone.”