Thursday 13 December 2018

Bush 'sorry for patting women's rears and jokes'

Former presidents George Bush and his son George W Bush (right) arrive at a baseball game in 2010.
Former presidents George Bush and his son George W Bush (right) arrive at a baseball game in 2010.

Nick Allen in Washington

A second actress has come forward to accuse former US president George HW Bush of touching her from behind during a photo-op.

Jordana Grolnick, a New York actress, has given her account of an incident in August last year that mirrored the accusations of actress Heather Lind earlier this week.

Actress Heather Lind. Photo: AP
Actress Heather Lind. Photo: AP

Grolnick also revealed the "dirty joke" Lind alluded to in a now-deleted Instagram post.

"We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him," Grolnick told Deadspin. "He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, 'Do you want to know who my favourite magician is?' As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, 'David Cop-a-Feel!'"

She said others in the room "laughed politely and out of discomfort", while former first lady Barbara Bush "said something along the lines of, 'He's going to get himself put into jail!'"

Grolnick said that at the time she almost "laughed it off" as the act of a "dirty old man".

But, referring to the recent stream of actresses speaking out about sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, she said: "I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately by a man who was once the leader of the free world…

"I realise that making light of the situation was the wrong move. It wasn't OK for him to do that to me."

In the wake of Lind's claims, the former president's office apologised on Wednesday night and offered an explanation.

"At age 93, president Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures," according to the statement. "To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke - and on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.

"Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, president Bush apologises most sincerely."

Bush spokesman Jim McGrath earlier said: "President Bush would never - under any circumstance - intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour offended Ms Lind." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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