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George HW Bush apologises after being accused of ‘sexual assault’

The 34-year-old actress Heather Lind, who starred in Turn: Washington’s Spies, a television drama, detailed her accusations in a lengthy Instagram post.

world Updated: Oct 25, 2017 18:55 IST
Agencies, New York
Harvey Weinstein,George HW Bush,Heather Lind
File photo taken on July 14, 2013 shows former US president George HW Bush as he sits in a wheelchair during an event in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Bush has issued an apology to an actress who accused him of groping her from his wheelchair while attending a screening, according to reports. Heather Lind, 34, said the incident occurred four years ago at an event to promote the TV series Turn: Washington's Spies.(AFP)

Former US President George HW Bush has issued an apology to an actress who accused him of groping her from his wheelchair while attending a screening, according to reports.

Heather Lind, 34, said the incident occurred four years ago at an event to promote the TV series Turn: Washington’s Spies, according to the Daily Mail, which saved a screenshot of a lengthy Instagram post she wrote and later deleted.

It is the latest in an outpouring of sexual harassment allegations against powerful male figures in entertainment, fashion and finance that followed the downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of assaulting and raping actresses.

File photo of actress Heather Lind. (Reuters)

Lind added she decided to share her story after seeing Bush Sr, 93, appear onstage at a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the hurricane-ravaged southern United States and the Caribbean.

“I found it disturbing because I recognise the respect ex-presidents are given for having served,” she wrote.

“But when I got the chance to meet George HW 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.

“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,” she added.

Later on, as pictures were being taken, Bush repeated the act, while “Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘’not again’.”

In a statement circulated to the Daily Mail and the New York Daily News, a spokesman for Bush did not deny the allegation but said it was an ill-judged attempt at humour.

“President Bush would never - under any circumstance - intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour offended Ms Lind,” the statement said.

Lind further wrote on Instagram: “We were instructed to call him Mr President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy. He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me.”

She said she decided to come forward because of “the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences”, the report said.

In the past few weeks, dozens of women have accused media mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, and made similar claims against other actors, producers, directors, photographers and musicians.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 17:17 IST