An Army veteran says Sen. Al Franken groped her in December 2003, telling CNN that while she was deployed in Kuwait, the Minnesota Democrat cupped her breast during a photo op.
Stephanie Kemplin, 41, of Maineville, Ohio, is the fifth woman in two weeks to accuse Franken of inappropriate touching, and the second person to allege that such behavior took place while Franken was on a USO tour. Three of the five women have been identified by name.
Kemplin said while she was stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War, she met Franken — at the time, a comedian and writer — as he was visiting American troops with the USO. A longtime fan of “Saturday Night Live,” Kemplin got in line to take a photo with Franken.
“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Kemplin said in an interview. “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.
Kemplin repeatedly used the word “embarrassed” to describe her immediate reaction at the time.
“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.”
She added: “It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident. I’m very confident saying that.”
Kemplin estimated that the touching lasted anywhere from five to 10 seconds. She said she eventually turned her body to shift Franken’s hand off her breast before the picture was taken.
In a photo shared with CNN, Kemplin — who was 27 at the time and a military police officer — is smiling widely with the left side of her face pressed against Franken’s right cheek. Franken’s right arm is wrapped around Kemplin’s back and his hand is on her side at chest-level, and does not appear to be on her breast in the photo.
Looking back at the picture, Kemplin said she recalls feeling frozen and numb: “I did not process it in those split seconds.”