George H. W. Bush Apologizes to Actress After She Claims He 'Sexually Assaulted' Her During a Photo Shoot
George H. W. Bush has apologized to an actress who accused him of sexually assaulting her while they posed for a photograph together four years ago.
The actress, Heather Lind, wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post that she was standing next to the former president when he “touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side.” Lind also alleges Bush told her a “dirty joke.”
The 93-year-old apologized to Lind in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
The former president’s spokesman Jim McGrath said in the statement, “President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”
Lind, who starred in AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies, wrote in the caption of her Instagram which featured a a photo of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bush shaking hands in a gathering of other former presidents, that this image had “disturbed” her.
“I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served,” she wrote. “And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo.
“He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”
Lind continued, writing, “Barbara [Bush] rolled her eyes as if to say “not again”. His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo. We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy.”
“What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really,” she added. “I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character.”
She wrote that her AMC castmates knew about the alleged assault because she told them, and that she decided to come forward because of “the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences.”
The accusation comes as a slew of women have accused Hollywood power producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, as well as similar claims against other actors, producers, directors and studio executives.
A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”