In a since-deleted Instagram post, actress Heather Lind has accused former President George HW Bush of nonconsensually groping her a few years ago, according to CNN. On Tuesday, Lind wrote that she was "disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H. W. Bush in a gathering of ex-presidents organising aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes."
"When I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo," read the post. "He didn't shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again."
Bush's media team has already responded to the accusation: "President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind," said a statement from spokesman Jim McGrath.
McGrath provided clarification of his statement on Wednesday: "At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures," McGrath said. "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."
Social media users tracked down the photo in question and began disseminating the image on Twitter:
Lind added that her co-workers were aware of the situation and have supported her: "I am grateful for the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences," she said. "And I thank President Barack Obama for the gesture of respect he made toward George H. W. Bush for the sake of our country, but I do not respect him. #metoo."
Actress Jordana Grolnick also came forward with her story after hearing Lind's narrative: “I got sent the Heather Lind story by many people this morning,” Grolnick said. “And I’m afraid that mine is entirely similar.”
“I guess I was thinking, ‘He’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?’ We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” she said in an interivew with Deadspin. “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!’”
“I don’t want to belittle Heather Lind for feeling violated,” she added. “Now that the #metoo movement has brought this all to light, I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately by a man who was once the leader of the free world. He knows the power he has, and the reverence he deserves, even while sitting perhaps somewhat senile in a wheelchair. What I’ve come to realize is that if we tolerate these small comments and grazes from men on the street or former presidents, they might assume that it’s OK with us, and they may take it as permission to do who-knows-what else. I realize that making light of the situation was the wrong move. It wasn’t OK for him to do that to me. He wasn’t able to give me a job or a movie deal, so I didn’t feel compromised or pressured to do anything more, but the comments and assumptions about our bodies must stop, at all levels.”
[Image: Getty Images]