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Al Franken Accused of Groping Army Veteran in 2003

WASHINGTON — An Army veteran told CNN that Al Franken cupped her breast as they took a photo together while she was deployed in Kuwait and he was on a USO tour.

The 41-year-old woman, Stephanie Kemplin, of Maineville, Ohio, is the fifth to claim that Franken made inappropriate contact with her. Franken returned to the Senate earlier this week, and he has apologized.

She said Franken, then a comedian and writer, was in the midst of a USO tour when she got in line to take a photo with him.

“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” she told CNN. “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 said “it was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.”

She did not say anything to Franken at the time, but she did tell a sister and ex-boyfriend. CNN contacted both, and they corroborated her story.

Earlier this month, Leeann Tweeden posted a story on the KABC radio website in which she said Franken groped her while they were on a USO tour in 2006. Another woman, Lindsey Menz, said Franken grabbed her butt as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Franken was a year into his tenure as a U.S. senator. Two other women also told the Huffington Post that Franken made inappropriate contact with them as they took pictures with him during his initial Senate campaign in 2007 and 2008.

A spokesperson for Franken told CNN that “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.” In the wake of the Tweeden allegations, Franken himself called for a Senate ethics investigation of the incidents.

Last week, Franken issued a statement in which he said he has “met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.” He told reporters on Monday, “I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed.”

The Star Tribune, the leading paper in the state, published an editorial on Monday saying Franken’s apology fell short of accountability for what happened.

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