UPDATE: A second woman came forward to accuse the former president of inappropriate behavior Wednesday. This time, New York actress Jordana Grolnick recounted to Deadspin an incident back in August 2016, when she was working at a theater in Maine. During the intermission of a performance of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Grolnick and her fellow actors gathered for a photo opp with Bush and his wife Barbara.
“We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” she said. “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!'”
A spokesperson for Bush said in a statement that the former president’s arm “falls on the lower waist” of people he takes photos with, given that he has been in a wheelchair for roughly five years, and so “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.”
ORIGINAL STORY: George H.W. Bush apologized recently after being accused of sexual assault by actress Heather Lind, noting through a spokesperson that the incident had simply been “his attempt at humor.”
On Tuesday, Lind shared a since-deleted post to Instagram recalling an interaction with the former president three years ago that left her feeling unsettled.
According to Lind, she and her costars met Bush during a Houston screening of their AMC series Turn: Washington’s Spies, about America’s first spy ring. It was there that she was accosted by Bush not once, but twice, she alleged.
“He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side,” Lind wrote in her caption. “He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. 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.”
A spokesperson for the former president wrote in a 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.”
The actress explained that she felt compelled to speak out after seeing a photo of President Obama posing with the 41st president at a benefit concert to raise funds for hurricane relief over the weekend.
Lind further added that she now recognizes, in retrospect, how the intimidating power dynamics of the alleged incident had caused her to stay silent about it for so long.
“We were instructed to call him Mr. President,” she wrote. “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. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me.”
“What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really,” she continued. “I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing hat his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character.”