George H. W. Bush Apologizes After He is Accused of Making a ‘David Cop-A-Feel’ Joke And Groping Second Actress
George H. W. Bush issues a second statement apologizing for "inappropriate" behavior after a second actress accused him of groping her during a photo-op
George H. W. Bush has apologized again through a spokesman after a second actress accused the former president of groping her in 2016.
“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,” read a statement from Bush’s office on Wednesday.
“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,” the statement continued. “Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate.”
“To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely,” it concluded.
New York actress Jordana Grolnick told Deadspin on Wednesday that she had posed for a photo with Bush when he came to see a theatre production of The Hunchback at Notre Dame, which she was also acting in. Grolnick posted a now-deleted Instagram of the moment.
She said other actors had warned her that Bush had a “reputation” for groping during photo-ops, but she didn’t take it seriously.
“I guess I was thinking, ‘He’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?'” she said.
Grolnick said she stood right next to him when she claims he grabbed her from behind while saying, “‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is? David Cop-a-Feel!'”
The actress said his wife, Barbara Bush stood nearby. “[She] said something along the lines of, ‘He’s going to get himself put into jail!'”
This is the second set of allegations against the Bush patriarch. On Tuesday, 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, who stars in AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies also alleges Bush told her a “dirty joke.”
The incident allegedly occurred in 2014 during a screening of the AMC drama that the cast attended. Lind was standing beside Bush for the photograph.
Following the allegations, on Tuesday night 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 was seemingly “disturbed” by a photograph of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bush shaking hands at a gathering of other former presidents.
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“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 by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”
Lind explained more of the experience, writing, “Barbara 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.”
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.”