Army Veteran Says Al Franken Groped Her in 2003
Stephanie Kemplin, the fifth woman to come forward about Franken, claims the Minnesota senator cupped her breast during a photo op, when Franken was a comedian on a USO tour.
Another woman has come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken of sexual harassment.
Speaking with CNN, Stephanie Kemplin said the then-comedian groped her, cupping her breast for five to 10 seconds during a photo op while Franken was on a USO tour in December 2003.
Kemplin, 41, of Ohio, is the fifth woman to come forward with claims against the Minnesota senator and the second to allege the inappropriate behavior took place during a USO tour. Broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, the first woman to come forward about Franken earlier this month, said he groped and kissed her without her consent during a 2006 tour.
"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," Kemplin, who was stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War, said in the interview. She was a military police officer and 27 at the time. "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."
Reporter MJ Lee said Kemplin repeatedly used the word "embarrassed" to describe her reaction at the time.
"I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed," she said. "And I remember thinking — is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand. It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I'm very confident saying that."
Kemplin shared the photo with CNN and the image shows Franken's right arm wrapped around her. Kemplin said she turned her body to shift Franken's hand off her breast before the picture was taken.
"And I remember thinking — is he going to move his hand?"— CNN (@CNN) November 30, 2017
An Army veteran tells CNN that Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2003, cupping her breast during a USO tour photo op https://t.co/R004Jsrbap pic.twitter.com/9MWgOWZeVG
A Franken spokesperson told CNN in a statement: "As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation."
Kemplin said she was inspired to tell her story after reading Tweeden's account. Kemplin also said she was a victim of sexual assault in a separate incident while serving overseas. She said she was assaulted by a specialist with whom she shared a tent earlier in 2003, just months before her run-in with Franken.
Her claim follows that of Lindsay Menz, who alleged Franken grabbed her behind during a photo op. The Huffington Post reported that two additional anonymous women said Franken inappropriately touched them in 2007 and 2008.
Franken has returned to work at the Senate and said he will participate in an ethics investigation should one come to pass.
"If you had asked me two weeks ago, would any woman come forward with an allegation like this, I would have said no," Franken said during an apology tour over the weekend. "And so I cannot speculate. This has been a shock and it's been extremely humbling. I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed."
(After this story published, a sixth anonymous accuser came forward, identified as a female former elected official in New England. The woman told Jezebel that Franken tried to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” onstage at an event in 2006, shortly before he ran for Senate.)