A growing national outcry over sexual harassment reached the Senate on Thursday, when a radio newscaster recounted being sexualy assaulted by U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota during a 2006 U.S.O. tour of the Middle East.
A humiliated Mr. Franken, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, almost immediately released an apology to the newscaster, Leeann Tweeden, who released a picture showing Mr. Franken groping her as she slept.
Senators Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, the Senate leaders, wasted no time before forwarding the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee — a move supported by Democrats, including Mr. Franken.
Democrats gave Mr. Franken no quarter.
“This is unacceptable behavior and extremely disappointing. I am glad Al came out and apologized, but that doesn’t reverse what he’s done or end the matter. I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it,” said Patty Murray of Washington, one of the most senior Democratic women in the Senate.
Ms. Tweeden published a first-person account of the incident on KABC Radio in Los Angeles on Thursday. She wrote that it occurred in December 2006, not long before Christmas, when she was a performer for the tour alongside Mr. Franken, then a well-known comedian.
She also presented evidence, including a photograph of Mr. Franken, his head turned toward the camera, with his hands placed over Ms. Tweeden’s breasts as she slept.