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Army veteran says Al Franken cupped her breast during USO tour photo op

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An Army veteran said Sen. Al Franken cupped her breast during a photo op while he was on a USO tour in Kuwait in December 2003, CNN reported. She said she eventually turned her body to shift Franken's hand off her breast before the photo was shot. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

An Army veteran said Sen. Al Franken cupped her breast during a photo op while he was on a USO tour in Kuwait in December 2003, CNN reported.

Stephanie Kemplin told the cable network she was a 27-year-old military police officer stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War and got in line for a photo with Franken, who was a comedian and writer at the time.

"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast," Kemplin told CNN. "He kept his hand all the way over on my breast. 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 is the fifth woman in two weeks to accuse Franken of inappropriate touching, CNN added.

 

 

 

What else did Kemplin say about her encounter with Franken?

  • "I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed," she added to the network. "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."
  • "It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident," Kemplin also told CNN. "I'm very confident saying that."
  • She estimated the touching lasted anywhere from five to 10 seconds, the network reported, adding that Kemplin said she eventually turned her body to shift Franken's hand off her breast prior to the photo being shot.

  • Kemplin also told CNN she felt "embarrassed" as well as frozen and numb: "I did not process it in those split seconds."
  • Kemplin added to the network she didn't say anything to Franken at the time.
  • "You're immediately put on the spot," she told CNN. "What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Your mind goes a mile a minute. Who was I going to tell?"
  • "I was in a war zone... You were on a USO tour," Kemplin told the network, which added that she repeatedly sobbed during phone interviews. "Are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own? I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture."

How did Franken respond?

  • A Franken spokesperson told CNN Wednesday night: "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."
  • Prior to Kemplin's accusation, a Texas woman came forward to say Franken grabbed her buttocks during a photo-op at a state fair, and two women accused Franken of sexually harassing them at Democratic events. But a number of female SNL staffers came to Franken's defense.

Did Kemplin tell fellow soldiers about the Franken incident?

  • She told CNN she doesn't recall telling fellow soldiers about the incident because she felt ashamed and didn't believe she could confide in them.
  • But Kemplin told relatives and an ex-boyfriend, the network said.
  • Amy Muddiman, Kemplin's older sister, told CNN that Kemplin was excited about Franken's USO visit since she was a fan of "Saturday Night Live," for which Franken famously penned sketches.
  • "I just remember her telling me that he grabbed her breast and that she was so shocked about it," Muddiman added to the network. "My sister is pretty bold and assertive, and she said that she didn't know what to do."
  • Kemplin's ex-boyfriend — who asked to remain anonymous to protect his privacy — also was in the Army and dated her after the pair returned to the United States, CNN said.
  • He recalled to the network Kemplin saying that Franken "went to put his arm around her and copped a feel."

What else do we know about Kemplin?

  • Kemplin told CNN she read about Leeann Tweeden's accusation against Franken earlier this month that started the controversy and "felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath me" because she tried not to think about her encounter with Franken for years.
  • Kemplin told the network she contacted Tweeden, who asked Kemplin if she could connect her with a CNN reporter.
  • Kemplin was honorably discharged in 2008, is a federal contractor investigating Medicare fraud, is a registered Republican and told CNN she voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
  • She also told the network she was sexually assaulted by a male specialist she shared a tent with in 2003, just months prior to the Franken photo.
  • Sean Chambers, the platoon sergeant in command of Kemplin overseas, told CNN she was a friendly, quiet "model soldier."
  • Chambers told the network that Kemplin told him about the incident with the specialist.
  • But Kemplin was later informed after an investigation that the male's "totally inappropriate behavior" was not "indecent assault," CNN reported, citing documents it reviewed.
  • Kemplin also was told she was "responsible" for letting the male specialist to get close to her, the network added.
  • "I was really pissed off. It was not right," Chambers told CNN. "My reaction was: when is it ever the victim's fault?"
  • "I believe Stephanie," Chambers added to the network. "I believe that something did happen. I've seen sexual assault victims before in my line of work and the trauma that they face and there's no doubt in my mind that something happened."
  • Kemplin told CNN she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has trouble sleeping.
  • She added to the network that some likely will doubt her Franken accusation after so much time has passed: "Nobody wants to believe anybody if you don't immediately stand up and say something."
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