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Toria Sheffield
November 21, 2017 11:34 am

Two women have come forward in recent days with allegations that Senator Al Franken groped them without their consent. Now, Franken’s former Saturday Night Live coworkers are coming to his defense.

In case you missed it, radio anchor Leeann Tweeden claimed that Franken touched her breasts while she slept as a third party took a picture (which remains as photo evidence), and also that he kissed and groped her during a rehearsal while on a 2006 USO Tour. Several days later, a woman named Lindsay Menz stated that Franken intentionally grabbed her buttocks during a photo-op at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.

As many may already know, the Minnesota Senator was a comedy writer before entering the world of politics, most notably on SNL from 1975 to 1980, and again from 1985 to 1995. This morning, November 21st, 36 female cast and crew members came forward with support for Franken.

The letter, released to several major news outlets, reads:

“We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.”

The letter continues,

“That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard."

The letter was signed by such high-profile comedians as Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman.

Here’s the thing: While we completely understand the impulse to trust and support our friends, this public statement does absolutely nothing to negate the claims of the two women who came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Franken. To believe that it does shows a fundamental misunderstanding of sexual abuse and harassment.

Women like Jennifer Lawrence, Sarah Silverman, and Meryl Streep (to name just a few) have said they were shocked by recent revelations that men like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. habitually abused women — because it hadn’t happened to them even though they had direct and regular contact with the predators for years. However, all three also spoke in support of accusers.

Just because a man doesn’t abuse some women in no way proves he doesn’t abuse other women. It’s a sad and scary reality — but it is a reality.

This is why — as much as we understand the desire to defend a friend — we in no way can forget or excuse the current allegations against Senator Franken. Sexual abusers and harassers must be held accountable for their actions no matter who they are and no matter how much it sometimes hurts to do so.

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