A prominent liberal journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Newsday accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken on Wednesday of groping her at a Media Matters party during President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
In a lengthy piece for the Atlantic, journalist and radio host Tina Dupuy accused the Democratic senator of putting “his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh…Then he squeezed. At least twice” while the two posed for a photo at the party.
“It shrunk me,” Dupuy, who had been married for two years at the time of the alleged sexual assault, wrote in the Atlantic. “It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, ‘You don’t matter—and I do.’ He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.”
The party was hosted by Media Matters for America, a progressive news watchdog site that is known for its aggressive criticism of conservative journalists and media outlets, including its “War on Fox News.”
Dupuy becomes the eighth woman to accuse Franken of unwanted sexual advances and her accusations come only a day after another woman accused the two-term senator of forcibly trying to kiss her following a taping of his radio show in 2006.
That accuser, who spoke to Politico under the condition of anonymity, said Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her things.
She said Franken tried to kiss her but that she ducked. Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer who was a host on the now-defunct “Air America” radio network at the time, allegedly followed up by telling her it was his “right as an entertainer.”
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me,” she told Politico. “It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked.
Support for Franken has rapidly vanished amid the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, with a majority of the Senate’s Democrats calling on the two-term lawmaker to quit.
Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” faces a chorus of calls to step aside, and Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.
“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”
Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken’s Twitter account said: “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”
A national conversation about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the heavily publicized case of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, including rape, by actresses and other women. Just on Wednesday, Time magazine named as its person of the year the “silence breakers” — women who have come forward on sexual harassment.
Punishment has been swift for leaders in entertainment, media and sports while members of Congress have tried to survive the onslaught of allegations.
Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.