On November 16th, Leeann Tweeden accused Senator Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent. Tweeden said that the assault took place in December 2006, when both she and Franken were on a USO tour in Iraq.
But Tweeden’s identity is greater than just “accuser” or “victim.” She is a passionate supporter of the troops, a former model, and a woman who wants to empower other women to speak out against sexual assault.
When Tweeden met Franken, the two were in Mosul, Iraq on a USO tour. Tweeden wrote in a post on her radio station’s website that it was her ninth USO tour and her eighth in the Middle East.
“My father served in Vietnam, and my then-boyfriend (and now husband, Chris) is a pilot in the Air Force, so bringing ‘a little piece of home’ to servicemembers stationed far away from their families was both my passion and my privilege,” she wrote.
Before the 2006 USO tour, Tweeden was scouted as a model while working at Hooters and went on to model for Hooters, Fredrick’s of Hollywood, and Playboy. She has also worked as a sports correspondent on Fox. Tweeden currently lives in Los Angeles and works as the morning news anchor for the McIntyre in the Morning showon radio station 790 KABC.
Since Franken issued a statement about the assault, Tweeden has said in a press statement that she accepts Franken’s apology. She said that she was not calling for Franken to resign or for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate his actions, but that they could go ahead with it if they saw fit.
“The apology, sure, I accept it, yes,” Tweeden said in a statement. “People make mistakes and of course knew he made a mistake. So yes I do accept that apology. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t accept that apology.”
Tweeden added that she wasn’t “looking for anything” when she shared her story. In her original post, she said that she had been inspired to come forward after reporting on the women who made allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Her decision was also influenced by California Representative Jackie Speier, who had shared her own experience of sexual assault with Tweeden.
There are still many misconceptions about sexual assault and its aftermath, so hopefully Tweeden’s candor about her experience will encourage others to speak out and help correct these misconceptions.