A TV host and sports broadcaster has accused Sen. Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006.
Leeann Tweeden took to Twitter on Thursday to accuse the Minnesota Democrat and former Saturday Night Live star of touching her breasts as she was sleeping while the two were on a USO Tour to entertain troops in December 2006.
“I’ve decided it’s time to tell my story,” she tweeted, including a photo of the alleged incident.
“It wasn’t until I was back in the U.S. and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one,” she wrote in a piece for KABC. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”
Tweeden says Franken also kissed her against her will during a rehearsal for a skit the then-comedian had written for the tour.
Franken quickly apologized for the incident in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, saying: “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.”
Tweeden also wrote that Franken, the headliner on the tour, told her he had written a skit for her to star in with him, and she “agreed to play along.”
“When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd,” she wrote.
“On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, ‘We need to rehearse the kiss.’ I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’”
Tweeden writes that she became uncomfortable after Franken continued to press the issue.
“He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she wrote.
“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 she felt “disgusted and violated” after the incident but that she didn’t tell anyone at the time.
It wasn’t until later that she saw the photo of Franken apparently groping her after she fell asleep on the plane ride back to the U.S.
“I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster,” she wrote.
“But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.”