US senator Franken offers Thanksgiving apology after fresh groping allegations

WASHINGTON — US Senator and former Saturday Night Live star Al Franken, accused of groping women, issued a fresh apology Thursday after new complaints of inappropriate behavior emerged this week.

The case of the Minnesota Democrat, who faces a potential Senate ethics investigation, is the latest in a series of sexual assault complaints against prominent American men in the entertainment, sports, political and media worlds.

Two women have anonymously alleged that Franken touched their buttocks at two separate political events in 2007 and 2008, the Huffington Post reported on Wednesday, taking the total number of accusations against him to four.

On the United States holiday of Thanksgiving, Franken wrote that he “feels terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly,” the Star Tribune newspaper in his home state reported.

The Jewish former comedian, writer and liberal talk radio host described himself as “a warm person” who likes to hug people when they’re being photographed with him, but clearly, his embrace “crossed a line for some women,” his statement said.

Franken vowed to move ahead with an effort to regain the trust of his constituents, the Star Tribune said.

Sports broadcaster and former model Leeann Tweeden was the first alleged victim to come forward, accusing Franken of touching her while she slept and kissing her without her consent in 2006.

A second woman, Lindsay Menz, then told CNN that she took a photograph with Franken at a Minnesota fair in 2010, and that he “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear.”

Franken said he felt “badly” about Menz’s feelings after their encounter. He also apologized profusely to Tweeden and said he would welcome a congressional investigation into his conduct.

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