An Army veteran has come forward to accuse U.S. Senator Al Franken of fondling her breast during a photo op while she was stationed in Kuwait. She is the fifth woman to allege having been groped by the embattled senator. Stephanie Kremplin, 41, said that she was a longtime fan of Saturday Night Live when then-comedian Franken came to visit the troops with the USO in 2003, so she had eagerly lined up for the chance 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,” Kemplin 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.”
“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she added. “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 … You’re immediately put on the spot. 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?”
In the end, Kemplin said, she didn’t share what had happened with her peers, but instead confided in her family and ex-boyfriend. Making matters worse, she noted, was that she was still traumatized after an alleged sexual assault by a specialist with whom she shared a room just months before. Sean Chambers, Kemplin’s platoon sergeant in Kuwait, said that an investigation into the incident was deemed “totally inappropriate behavior” but not “indecent assault” by Army investigators, who justified their decision by arguing that Kemplin was “responsible” for allowing the male specialist to be near her.
“I was really pissed off. It was not right,” Chambers said. “My reaction was: When is it ever the victim’s fault?”
Kemplin, who was honorably discharged and returned home from Iraq in 2008, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the ways she copes, she explained, is to “shut down” and block out negative memories. But hearing about radio host Leeann Tweeden’s allegations of groping against Franken — also while he was on a different USO tour — brought the memories rushing back. She said she reached out to Tweeden, and the two women began having conversations on the phone — which eventually led to Tweeden asking her if she wanted to come forward.
Read the full story at CNN.