Defending Al Franken?

There are two accusations against the comedian/senator: first that he forcibly kissed the woman against her will, and second, that he groped her while she was sleeping and was photographed doing it. The trouble with the first accusation is that his accuser admits that she agreed to be in a skit in which he tried to kiss her, and further, that she agreed, however reluctantly, to rehearse the kiss. This is a gigantic hole in her story of being kissed against her will. Her problem was that she just didn't like the kiss. When you sign up for an acting gig, rehearsal is a an expected consequence, and the time to protest is before, not after. She also reports that she angrily pushed him away. That's not an appropriate way to react to a scene not going exactly the way you expected, and Franken was understandably offended, maybe as much as she was.

The second charge, groping, or simulated groping, is more serious, especially because it was photographed. Franken's revenge was nasty, offensive, and in bad taste. On the other hand, it does not seem like he actually touched her, and how much groping could you do through a flak vest anyway - that's armor that can stop a 9 mm bullet even without the ceramic inserts she was likely wearing.

She suffered a humiliating insult, but if he didn't actually touch her, it wasn't sexual assault. And she admits that she agreed to the kiss.

This does not excuse Franken, but it would seem to suggest a significant difference from many other offenses we have heard about. Of course if this sort of thing was a pattern of behavior rather than a one-off, the arithmetic changes.

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