George HW Bush Apologizes Again After Second Woman Says He Groped Her

LM Otero/AP

Former President George H.W. Bush’s spokesperson released another statement responding to allegations of sexual assault on Wednesday night, as a second woman said Bush groped her during a photo op.

“I got sent the Heather Lind story by many people this morning,” actress Jordana Grolnick told Deadspin. “And I’m afraid that mine is entirely similar.”

Grolnick was referring to an account from Heather Lind, who said that, four years ago, Bush sexually assaulted her during a photo op. “He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side,” Lind said in a since-deleted Instagram post. “He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”

Grolnick described a similar incident, when Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush went backstage to meet the cast of a play he’d seen, and of which she was a member: “We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” she 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 favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”

The former first lady, Grolnick said, said something like “He’s going to get himself put into jail!” Lind, in her case, said Barbara Bush had said, “Not again.”

Bush’s spokesperson did not respond to TPM’s questions on Wednesday. He told Deadspin, in his second statement on the matter:

“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. 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 apologizes most sincerely.”

The previous day, the same spokesperson, Jim McGrath, told various outlets: “President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”

Deadspin’s Dave McKenna noted in his report on Grolnick’s allegation that he had found, in previous reporting, two women who had tweeted about Bush making the “David Cop-a-feel” joke on Apr. 4, 2014.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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