The number of women coming forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them continues to increase. The latest account comes from a former Republican state Senate candidate in Maine, Amanda Staples, which brings the number of accusers to five, so far.
In an Instagram post on her now private account, Staples said she visited the president at Walker’s Point, the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, ME, ahead of the 2006 elections for state Senate. According to a screenshot of the post published by the Portland Press Herald, the 41st president, now 93, groped Staples during a photo op, saying, “Oh, I’m not THAT president.”
“I rationalized it in my mind that he had become a dirty old man in his later years,” Staples wrote. “As I left the estate, I called and left a voicemail for my Dad about it. He didn’t think it was funny.”
Earlier this week, actress Heather Lind, 34, was the first to come forward with similar allegations in a now–deleted post on Instagram. She said Bush groped her from his wheelchair four years ago during a photo shoot promoting a television show.
The NY Daily News described her account:
“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. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again.’ His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”
Three more women have since come forward with similar stories, including New York actress Jordana Grolnick, author Christina Baker Kline, and former Erie Times-News editorial page editor Liz Allen. Several of the women say the former president used a version of the same “joke” about “David Cop-a-feel.”
Asked about the allegations by Deadspin, Bush spokesperson Jim McGrath said:
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. 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.”
That explanation, however, contradicts a first–person account written by Kline for Slate:
He cocked his head at me for a moment, then said, “You’re beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“You’re a writer.”
“You wanna know my favorite book?” he whispered. I had to lean close to hear him.
“Yes, what is it?”
By now the photographer was readying the shot. My husband stood on one side of the wheelchair, and I stood on the other. President Bush put his arm around me, low on my back. His comic timing was impeccable. “David Cop-a-feel,” he said, and squeezed my butt, hard, just as the photographer snapped the photo.
Kline said that after the incident, a Bush family driver told her and her husband, “I do trust you will be … discreet.”