Senator Al Franken is back on the front page today as a fifth woman- an Army veteran- is accusing him of cupping her breast while posing for a photo. The alleged grope took place when he was a comedian visiting troops in the USO. Stephanie Kemplin, the accuser is 41 now and says that when he put his arm around her to take the photo, he groped her breast and kept it there. “I’ve never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast. So he was holding my breast on the side,” she said. She was 27 at the time and a long time fan of SNL. Kemplin didn’t believe it was an accident as his hand stayed there for what she estimates was between five and ten seconds. She said the action made her feel ashamed at the time so she didn’t tell anyone in the military but she did tell family members.
The veteran is also the victim of sexual assault in the military – a big reason she told me the recent Franken news has been so tough to take. https://t.co/nYfenlPrhK
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) November 30, 2017
Kemplin alleges that she shifted her body to move his hand before the photograph was taken.
Franken denies the incident and said in a statement via spokesperson that “he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct.”
A photo of the Franken with Kemplin was released by CNN.
Comedy and music producer Russell Simmons has announced today he will be stepping away from his business enterprises. Two weeks ago model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused the mogul of sexual assault and harassment, and today screenwriter Jenny Lumet responded to Simmons claims that he has never assaulted a woman with a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter saying that she was sexually assaulted by Simmons. Her column describes a nightmare where after offering her a ride home, she claims Russell locked the doors to his car, forced her to his home and assaulted her. In a lengthy statement, Simmons responded directly to Lumet, saying he recalls the evening differently but believes that she felt afraid and intimidated. Claiming he doesn’t want to be a distraction from a new power structure to come, he says he is removing himself from his businesses to make way for “a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward.” He also vows to continue his own spiritual growth. The full statement is reproduced below.
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologize.
This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”