(JTA) – U.S. Senator Al Franken issued a new apology following additional complaints by two women of inappropriate behaviour.
“I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry,” said Franken, a Democrat and former comedian who faces a potential Senate ethics investigation, according to the Star Tribune newspaper in his home state of Minnesota.
The women, who both spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity in an article posted Thursday, said that Franken, who is Jewish, had touched their buttocks during campaign events in Minneapolis in 2007 and 2008, the lawmaker’s first campaign for the Senate.
One of the women said Franken groped her when they posed for a photo after a June 25, 2007, event hosted by the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus in Minneapolis. In a statement to HuffPost, Franken said, “It’s difficult to respond to anonymous accusers, and I don’t remember those campaign events.”
Earlier this week, Lindsay Menz, 33, said that Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, grabbed her buttocks while they took a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. In a statement Monday to CNN, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
Menz’s accusation came after the accusation by Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles-based news anchor and former model, went public that Franken groped her during a 2006 tour to entertain U.S. troops in the Middle East. Franken was a comedian and a writer at the time; he has served as a senator since 2009. Franken apologized to Tweeden.
In his statement published Thursday expressing remorse, Franken also seemed to claim he never intended to touch women in a way that would make them feel uncomfortable.
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people,” Franken said in the statement. “I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women – and I know that any number is too many.”
The allegations against Franken are part of a series of sexual assault complaints against prominent American men in the entertainment, sports, political and media worlds.