36 SNL Women Defend Al Franken Amid Groping Allegations

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.
After Leeann Tweeden alleged that Democratic Senator Al Franken groped and forcibly kissed her in 2006, many people, including President Donald Trump, criticized Franken. He's since apologized to the TV host, who says she accepts his apology. A second woman, Lindsay Menz, has also accused Franken of groping her at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Franken issued a statement to CNN that he didn't remember taking the photo, but that he felt bad "that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
Now, dozens of women who worked with Franken on Saturday Night Live are coming together in support of the senator, who was an SNL cast member before running for office.
The SNL women's open letter claims that Franken's actions toward Tweeden were "stupid and foolish," but that "not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior" from Franken.
"We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public," the open letter reads. "In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant."
"That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard," the letter states.
Some Twitter users, including writers and reporters, criticized the women behind the open letter, expressing concern that it would discourage other women from speaking out about sexual misconduct.
Other reporters noted that none of SNL's current female cast members signed the open letter. (The list does include three current crew members.)
"I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," SNL's Colin Jost said of the photo of Franken and Tweeden during the segment. "And, sure, this was taken before he ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on. He didn't know any better. He was only 55.'"
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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