George H.W. Bush issues another apology after sexual assault allegations

President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush.
Image: Eric Gay/AP/REX/Shutterstock

George H.W. Bush was forced to apologise for a second time after another actress said he sexually assaulted her at a photo op. 

Jordana Grolnick told Deadspin that the incident happened in August 2016, while she was working at a Maine production of Hunchback of Notre Dame and the crew gathered for a picture with the visiting former president: 

“We all circled around him and Barbara [Bush] for a photo, and I was right next to him. 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!’”

Grolnick added the others in the room “laughed politely and out of discomfort” while Barbara reportedly said: “He’s going to get himself put into jail!’ to which we laughed harder.”

Earlier this week, another actress, Heather Lind, wrote in a (now deleted) Instagram post that she was “disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H. W. Bush in a gathering of ex-presidents organising aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes.”

Lind, who played Anna Strong in AMC’s Turn: Washington Spies, said Bush “sexually assaulted her” in a similar fashion. 

“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.”

As Deadspin points out, in 2014 two people on Twitter made a reference to the “David Cop-a-Feel” joke. 

Now, other people came out on Twitter to confirm this account: 

Bush Senior’s spokesman Jim McGrath initially issued a short statement of apology: 

“President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”

But later a more detailed statement was released: 

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”

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