An Army veteran from Ohio accused Democratic Sen. Al Franken on Thursday of groping her during a photo op while he was on a USO tour in December 2003.
Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN that when she was deployed in Kuwait, the Minnesota senator cupped her breast while taking a photo with her.
She is now the fifth woman who has accused Franken of inappropriate touching in recent weeks.
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News on Thursday, a spokesperson for Franken said, “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.”
Franken has previously apologized for crossing a line with some women and has said he would “gladly cooperate” with the ethics investigation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for.
Kemplin said she met Franken while he was visiting US troops in Kuwait during the Iraq war. As a fan of Saturday Night Live, she said that she got in line to take a photo with Franken, who was then a comedian on the show.
“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 said that Franken's hand was on her breast for 5 to 10 seconds.
“It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident,” she said, adding that she was confident it wasn't accidental.
“I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed,” she said. “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.”
Kemplin said that finally she shifted her position to get Franken's hand off her breast before the photo was taken. In the photo provided to CNN, she is seen smiling with Franken whose hand is around her back.
Kemplin did not return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Kemplin described feeling “frozen and numb” and said she was embarrassed by the incident, but did not confront Franken about it at the time.
“I was in a war zone… You were on a USO tour — are you trying to boost the morale of the troops or are you trying to boost your own?” she said. “I just feel so sorry for that young girl in that picture.”
Kemplin, who is registered Republican and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 elections, said that she discussed the incident with her family members and an ex-boyfriend, but did not confide in any fellow soldiers.
The White House has dismissed comparisons between Trump — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women — and Franken, because “Franken admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't.”
Kemplin, who was honorably discharged in 2008, said she was sexually assaulted by a specialist with whom she shared her tent just months before the encounter with Franken. She said the specialist was found not guilty of indecent assault.
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Morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden was the first to accuse Franken of groping her without consent, prompting four other women to accuse the senator of similar behavior.
Lindsay Menz alleged that Franken grabbed her butt in 2010 as they were taking a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair.
Two women, who spoke anonymously to HuffPo, alleged that Franken touched them inappropriately during photo ops. One said he grabbed her butt at an event hosted by the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus in 2007, and the other alleged that Franken cupped her butt during a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis.
Following the allegations, Franken apologized for letting people down, saying that he will be accountable for his actions and work to regain the public's trust. He has also acknowledged that he “crossed a line for some women” during encounters where he greeted or embraced them for a photo, but has refused to “speculate” on whether he will resign.
“Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that,” Franken said in an earlier statement. “I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations. I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again.”