A third woman has come forward to accuse George H.W. Bush of groping.
Like with his first two accusers — actresses Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick — the third woman said she was groped while posing for a photo with the former president. The woman, writer Christina Baker Kline, detailed the incident in Slate on Thursday.
The article is accompanied by a photo showing Bush’s hand on Kline’s butt as she and her husband pose with him in 2014.
“He squeezed my butt, hard, just as the photographer snapped the photo,” she wrote. “Instinctively, I swiped his hand away.”
Later, she wrote she was asked by a driver to be “discreet.”
“The people around President Bush are accustomed to doing damage control. There must be many of us, I remember thinking. And now I know there are,” she wrote.
She goes on to explain why she didn’t come forward sooner.
“Most women I know have experienced this kind of joking and groping dozens of times,” she wrote. “You become inured to it. It happens, you try to forget about it, and later you exchange war stories with other women.”
Grolnick said that when she was allegedly groped, Bush told her his favorite magician is “David Cop-A-Feel.”
Following the first allegation of groping by Lind, Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, apologized in a statement on behalf of the 41st president, adding that the alleged groping was an attempt at “humor.”
And after the second accusation, McGrath said in another statement, “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. ... To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”
Kline is yet another woman to come forward with allegations of sexual assault against men in positions of authority in recent weeks.
Alyssa Milano started a resurgence of the “Me Too” movement as a way to elevate the Harvey Weinstein conversation; the Hollywood mogul has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women, including Lupita Nyong'o, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow.
While many have shown support to the women, others have defended Weinstein.
Grolnick spoke of the gravity of the Bush allegations to Deadspin:
“Now that the #metoo movement has brought this all to light, I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately by a man who was once the leader of the free world. He knows the power he has, and the reverence he deserves, even while sitting perhaps somewhat senile in a wheelchair. What I’ve come to realize is that if we tolerate these small comments and grazes from men on the street or former presidents, they might assume that it’s ok with us, and they may take it as permission to do who-knows-what else. ... The comments and assumptions about our bodies must stop, at all levels.”