The latest claim in a series of allegations of sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken now comes from an Army veteran who was serving in Kuwait in 2003 when she said he inappropriately touched her.
Stephanie Kemplin accused the Minnesota Democrat of cupping her breast during a photo-op, telling CNN she “did not process it in those split seconds” when it happened.
While she was stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War, the 27-year-old military police officer met Franken who was a comedian and writer at the time and was visiting American troops with the USO. This was the same tour in which Franken was accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden of groping her while she slept.
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin, now 41, said. “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.”
She recalled thinking it was an accident.
“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.”
The moment lasted about five to 10 seconds before she said she shifted her body as the photo was taken.
“It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that,” Kemplin added.
The recent news about Franken’s run-ins with other women who have come forward was especially troubling for Kemplin who told CNN she was the victim of a sexual assault by a specialist with whom she shared a tent in 2003, just months before meeting Franken.
Kemplin, who was discharged honorably in 2008, reportedly “broke into sobs” repeatedly during long phone calls with CNN for the interview.
“I was in a war zone… You were on a USO tour — are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own?” she said. “I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”
Franken, who has not resigned from his seat in the Senate, has apologized for the behavior he has been accused of though he has stated he does not remember groping incidents.
A spokesperson for the Democratic lawmaker offered a response to the latest accusation: “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.”