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Three women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of inappropriate touching.
Actress Jordana Grolnick says Bush grabbed her buttocks during a group photo last year at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.
She told Deadspin that Bush quipped that his favorite magician is “David Cop-a-Feel” and grabbed her. She said Barbara Bush responded, “He’s going to get himself put in jail.”
Grolnick couldn’t be reached immediately by The Associated Press. Her story came to light after People magazine reported a similar allegation by actress Heather Lind.
The former president’s office said he routinely tells the same joke “and on occasion he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” The statement says he apologizes “to anyone he has offended.”
Thursday night (Oct. 26), a third woman, Christina Baker Kline claimed that she too was assaulted by President Bush.
In an essay for Slate, Kline said Bush groped her rear end during a 2014 luncheon.
Kline says she was invited as a guest author for a fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in April of that year. Before the event, she met the former president and first lady during a small luncheon at a private home. During a photo op with the wheelchair-bound president, Bush asked her, “You wanna know my favorite book?”
She leaned in and as Bush’s arm rested low on her back, he said, “David Cop-a-feel” and squeezed her rear end as her picture was taken, Kline writes. She swiped his hand away but argues that what happened can be seen in the official photograph.
As she and her husband were being driven back to the hotel, Kline says she told him what happened and his jaw dropped. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said.
Their driver leaned back and said, “I do trust you will be … discreet.”
“Her comment wasn’t menacing. But in that moment I thought: She has heard this before,” Kline writes. “The people around President Bush are accustomed to doing damage control. There must be many of us, I remember thinking. And now I know there are.”
Kline says it took her a few years to come forward because the incident involved an ex-president, she didn’t want to face the scrutiny such an accusation would bring as she was recovering from breast cancer, she didn’t want to damage the reputation of the literacy foundation and didn’t want to seem opportunistic.
“Most of all, I didn’t want to be perceived as being cruel to a harmless, aging former president with a reputation for courtly gentility. But now, with two women talking about the same behavior—even the same crude joke—I feel compelled to step forward,” Kline writes. “Three and a half years ago President Bush might not have been as mentally acute, but over the course of the weekend I saw him actively engaged in conversation and to all appearances controlling his impulses. He made a choice to do what he did to me.”
Oct. 27, 9:17 a.m. This story has been updated with the account of a third women, who’s accused Bush of groping her.
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