Just when it looked like Al Franken’s Senate career might survive allegations of sexual assault (and a deadly photo of him groping or threatening to grope a sleeping woman), a new allegation arose, from a Texas woman who says she had an “uncomfortable” encounter with Franken while having her photo taken with him at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010:
[A]s her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” [Lindsey] Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”
Franken says he has no recollection of the incident:
“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
What makes this allegation different from the earlier accusation by TV personality Leeann Tweeden (other than the lack of photo evidence) is that it occurred after Franken was elected to the Senate. That makes it squarely within the jurisdiction of the Senate Ethics Committee, which was already expected to investigate the Minnesotan, at his own request.
It also quite obviously makes the Tweeden incident look like part of a pattern rather than an isolated mistake.
Menz may not have any corroborating evidence of her allegation (other than the photo with Franken that only shows the pair from the shoulders up), but her credibility is enhanced by the fact that she told family members about it immediately, and even mentioned it on Facebook, writing “Dude – Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!” in an exchange visible to her Facebook friends.
The new allegation was made directly to CNN after it reported the Tweeden story. The fate of Al Franken’s political career, if it has not already been sealed, may depend on whether other women now come forward in response to fresh evidence that the senator had a problem that led to inappropriate if not criminal conduct.