WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is “ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you.”
In a guest appearance Friday on ABC’s “The View,” Leeann Tweeden read a letter she received from the Democratic lawmaker in which he also discussed a photo showing him posing in a joking manner, smiling at the camera with his hands above her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.
Franken missed votes in the Senate Thursday afternoon and has not made any public appearances since the allegations came out.
Both had been performing for military personnel in Afghanistan two years before the one-time “Saturday Night Live” comedian was elected to the Senate. Tweeden, a former Fox TV sports correspondent who now is a Los Angeles radio anchor, has said Franken had persisted in rehearsing a kiss and “aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
Franken told Tweeden in the letter he wanted to “apologize to you personally,” adding: “I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture. But that doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I understand why you can feel violated by that photo. … I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO. And I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you. I am so sorry.'”
Franken, 66, was the latest public figure to be caught in the deluge of revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct that have crushed careers, ruined reputations and prompted criminal investigations in Hollywood, business and beyond.
While Franken has repeatedly apologized, there were no signs the issue would go away any time soon. Fellow Democrats swiftly condemned his actions, mindful of the current climate as well as the prospect of political blowback in next year’s elections.
Republicans, still forced to answer for the multiple allegations facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, joined in pressing for an investigation. Franken said he would welcome it.
Franken abruptly canceled a sold-out book festival appearance scheduled for Monday in Atlanta, festival organizers said. He had been scheduled to speak and promote his book, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.”
Tweeden posted her allegations, including a photo of Franken and her, Thursday on the website of KABC, where she works as a news anchor for a morning radio show.
On Friday, Tweeden said she didn’t come forward with the hope that Franken would step down. “That’s not my call,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” ”I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide.”
Franken faces re-election in 2020.
Meanwhile, a Minnesota woman and rape survivor who worked with Franken to craft legislation for fellow survivors said Friday the senator should take his name off the bill. Abby Honold, 22, who was raped by a fellow University of Minnesota student in 2014, called Franken’s conduct disappointing and said someone else should champion the bill.
Eight women who worked for Franken in the Senate vouched for him, saying in a joint statement Friday that he treated them “with the utmost respect.”
In a statement Thursday, Franken apologized to Tweeden and his constituents while maintaining that he remembered the rehearsal differently. Tweeden said she accepted his apology.
“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” Franken said. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”
President Donald Trump, who has faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct, ridiculed Franken in tweets Thursday night: “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? ….. And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.”
Trump has been publicly silent about the allegations against Moore, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s special Senate election. Through a spokeswoman, he called the allegations of sexual misconduct against the former judge “very troubling” but stopped short of calling on Moore to drop out.
Trump once boasted that as a celebrity “you can do anything,” speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, claims Trump denies.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday: “Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t. I think that’s a very clear distinction.”
The accusations against Franken come just days after the Senate unanimously adopted mandatory sexual harassment training for members and staffs amid a flood of stories about harassment, sexual misconduct and gender hostility from staffers, aides and even female elected officials.
Franken’s fellow Minnesota Democrat, Amy Klobuchar, condemned Franken’s behavior. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, facing a tough re-election next year, said, “Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”
ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Rock Island native Madison Keys returned to the Quad Cities to take a break from tennis and talk about bullying.
Keys is a professional tennis player who made her first trip to the finals of the U.S. Open in September. She's also a 22-year-old who's faced her share of online attacks.
"I've been getting it since the first day I signed up for Twitter and Instagram. It's obviously worse after matches that I lose, and for the longest time I would just stay silent about it, not do anything, not say anything really. It felt like there were no steps forward with creating a safer online space," said Keys.
Now, Keys has decided it's time to talk.
She returned to Rock Island on Friday, November 11, to launch the U.S. arm of FearlesslyGIRL, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young women.
"This is obviously where I was born and raised and starting tennis. This is kind of where everything started for me, so for me, there was really no other place to start something else that means so much to me," said Keys.
Keys, along with speaker Kate Whitfield, hosted an anti-bullying assembly for girls from various Quad City high schools. The event was also live-streamed to more than 7,000 viewers from Augustana College. Topics ranged from female role models to how to ask for help.
"It's just kinda self-empowering and not letting someone else, or something that you hear someone say, break you down," said Georgia Nissen, a sophomore at North Scott High School.
Keys took time to pose for pictures and meet with girls after the assembly.
She said she'd love to return next year, and they are already thinking of ways to make the event bigger and better.
"I feel like we just made the world a little bit better today. Even if it's just girl world, we made it a little bit better, and that was the whole point behind this," said Keys.
MOLINE, Illinois -- Moline Police are looking for information on a pair seen on video stealing a freezer compressor from Whitey's Ice Cream.
According to Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities, it was discovered stolen from the Whitey's location on 41st St. in Moline on Thursday, November 16.
Video shows a white standard cab Ford F150 pulling into the parking lot before two males got out, leaving the driver inside the truck. Police say one suspect was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and the other was wearing a neon yellow hooded sweatshirt.
The pair is seen loading the compressor into the bed of the truck, which has a black grille, black bumper, and has a sticker on the rear window of the driver's side.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities tip line at 309-762-9500 or submit an anonymous tip using the free app "P3 Tips" for a possible cash reward.
ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — Three men from the Illinois Quad Cities were found guilty in federal court this week for their roles in a home invasion where they threatened to shoot pregnant women and children.
Deaunta Tyler, 29 and Dalvent Jackson, 24, both of East Moline – and Ledell Tyler, 35, of Silvis – are all scheduled to be sentenced in March after a jury found them guilty of attempted robbery, discharging a firearm during a robbery and being felons in possession of firearms.
According to court records, the three broke into a Rock Island home on the night of Jan. 7 in search of drugs. During the robbery, the defendants “threatened to shoot various occupants of the home, including two pregnant women and several young children.” At least one shot was fired during the robbery as well, according to court records.
The suspects were captured several hours after the robbery when they fled from a traffic stop initiated by Rock Island Police and crashed.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 13 in U.S. District Court. Each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison for the attempted armed robbery and felon in possession of a firearm charges, and a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison for discharging a firearm in furtherance of the attempted robbery to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed for the underlying offenses.
Rain will continue from time to time as we go through the overnight hours, when amounts will range between a quarter to a half an inch.
The rain will continue through Saturday morning, but given the sharp drop in temperatures aloft during this period a mix to even a brief change over to snow is still expected. This is very similar to last Saturday when the rain changed over to a burst of snow producing a small grass covering in spots. We’ll likely see that again with the better chances more north and west of the Quad Cities where amounts could add up to an inch. Roads will be wet but not slick.
The next issue will be the wind as gusts could reach over 30 mph. Not the greatest news for the aerial balloons at the Festival of Trees Parade as winds may be too strong to carry them.
30s will be common during the day on Saturday with wind chills in the 20s. Skies will clear later that day setting up for a bright but cold and less windy Sunday with highs in the 30s.
Chief meteorologist James Zahara
SHEBOYGAN, Wisc. -- Is this my bill or my phone number?!
Neither. It's your social security number.
A Wisconsin man recently received a student loan bill that indicated he owed nearly $4 million.
"I almost had a heart attack," Robert Theis told WITI. "I was like, 'Whoa, what's going on?'"
Theis owed $3,000 to Federal Perkins Loan. Like most colleges, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee outsources collections to a third-party. In this case, Heartland ECSI was handling the debt collection.
Theis recently checked his balance and his amount owed suddenly ballooned to over $4 million.
"People were like, 'You don't even go to MIT for that kind of education. How do you accrue such a debt?'" Theis recalled.
School officials told Theis he missed one payment five years ago. However, he couldn't imagine that would cause his loan to go up by such an obscene amount.
The school and debt collection agency confirmed to WITI it was a mistake.
"The loan amount the student saw was actually not even possible," explained Tim Opgenorth, the UWM Director of Financial Aid.
Opgenorth says his office reached out to Heartland ECSI on Theis' behalf.
"Heartland gave us the assurance that it was a one-time glitch in the system, that it was fixed immediately," Opgenorth said.
But there were still more surprises. Theis discovered the amount he "owed" wasn't a random number.
"The amount, in fact, wasn't the amount owed. It was my social security number," Theis said.
Theis was concerned about who had access to his social security number. An official at Heartland ECSI assured Theis he was the only person with access to his information and his social security number only appeared on the online page. Theis was also told the incorrect amount was not reported to the credit bureau.
"If he feels in any way that his credit has been damaged or compromised, they are willing to work with him," Opgenorth told WITI.
Heartland ECSI also issued a statement to WITI that said it "does not discuss individual borrower accounts with the media…There has been no unauthorized access to or acquisition of date from the ECSI systems."
Theis told WITI he believes the error did have a negative impact on his credit score. However, his score has been slowly improving since the error was discovered.