Leeann Tweeden, a news anchor for KABC in Los Angeles, is accusing Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of inappropriate sexual behavior that included grabbing her breasts while she was asleep.
In a first-person column for KABC published Thursday, Tweeden recalled a 2006 incident in which she was on a USO tour in the Middle East with Franken, who was not a senator at the time, and others.
She said the entertainment lineup prepared for the U.S. troops included a skit written by Franken that involved him kissing her.
She said he insisted on practicing the kiss before the performance and that when he did, he aggressively pressed his lips against hers and pushed his tongue into her mouth.
"I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time," Tweeden said. "I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth."
She said that on the return trip home to the U.S., Franken also put his hands on her breasts while she was asleep.
"I couldn’t believe it," she wrote. "He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated."
Included in Tweeden's online story is a photograph that appears to show Franken smiling at the camera with his hands on Tweeden, who is wearing a helmet that has her name on it. She has her eyes closed and appears to be asleep.
In a statement provided to the Washington Examiner, Franken said he has a different recollection of the skit rehearsal, but offered his "sincerest apologies," and said the photo "was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't."
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it," Franken said.
Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008. Over the last few weeks and months, he has tweeted several times about the importance of fighting sexual harassment.
"Sexual harassment and violence are unacceptable," he tweeted in October. "We must all do our part to listen, stand with, and support survivors."
Sexual harassment and violence are unacceptable. We all must do our part to listen, stand with, and support survivors.— Sen. Al Franken (@SenFranken) October 23, 2017
On March 6, 2017, Franken spoke on the Senate floor about the need to help women fight sexual harassment, and noted the charges against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes.
In other tweets, he has thanked people for backing the #MeToo effort to share stories about harassment, and said students in particular need to be protected.