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New misconduct allegation leveled against Franken on USO tour

Sen. Al Franken is seen in this 2013 file photo at Moorhead High School in Moorhead, Minn. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

An Army veteran from Ohio says U.S. Sen. Al Franken cupped her breast in 2003.

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN about a USO tour photo opportunity in Kuwait in which she said the Minnesota Democrat reached around her and touched her breast. She is the fifth woman to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct.

The incident occurred six years before Franken took his Senate seat. He was visiting the Middle East, and Kemplin said since she was a fan of "Saturday Night Live" -- where Franken was a writer and actor -- she got in line to get a photo with him.

"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast," she told CNN. "He kept his hand all the way over on my breast. ... I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed. And I remember thinking, 'Is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand?' He never moved his hand."

Kemplin said the incident embarassed her, but she did not say anything about it to Franken. She indicated that Franken's hand was on her breast long enough that she did not think it was an accident.

A spokesman from the senator said: "As Sen. Franken made clear this week, he takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation."

A Senate Ethics Committee probe is expected.

Kemplin's allegation is similar to those from other women, including those who said he grabbed their buttocks during pictures. The first allegation came from a radio talk show host who said he forced a kiss on her during a USO tour, then took a picture of her with his hands over her breasts.

Franken took Thanksgiving week off to think about the allegations, returning to work this week saying he will not resign.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.