But so does Sen. Al Franken. And while Leeann Tweeden may have forgiven Franken and doesn't believe for now that he should step down from the Senate, there are others who see Franken's continued presence as both an insult and a weapon to be used again and again, and that he is no longer capable of doing his job.
It was on a November evening in 2014, after a tailgate party on her University of Minnesota campus, that Abby Honold was brutally raped by a fellow student. Despite going to the hospital in an ambulance with bruises and bite marks, despite reporting everything to police, it would take more than a year for Honold to find justice.
In August 2016, her rapist, Daniel Drill-Mellum, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to six years in prison. Honold’s public and agonizing fight to hold Drill-Mellum accountable drew statewide attention, shedding light on the challenges of reporting and prosecuting sexual assaults.
It also led Honold to the offices of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). Honold’s convicted rapist, it turns out, had interned for the senator.
Franken, moved by Honold’s story, worked with her to draft a Senate bill that would provide federal funding for special law enforcement training on interviewing victims of trauma. He planned to introduce the bill this month.
“He was one of the few people who listened to me and actually let me talk,” Honold told The Washington Post. “It felt really validating to be heard and to see something come of my experience that was positive for other people.”
So on Thursday, Honold was stunned and crushed when she heard that a Los Angeles radio broadcaster, Leeann Tweeden, had accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her during a USO tour in 2006. He was captured posing for a photo grabbing Tweeden’s breasts while she was sleeping.
Honold wholeheartedly believed the woman. She decided that her bill — and her efforts to combat sexual assault — could no longer be associated with someone who was accused of this kind of behavior.
The 22-year-old no longer wants Franken’s name on the legislation when it is introduced and hopes to find someone else to sponsor it.
“It’s really difficult when someone who has been a champion for you turns out to be the exact opposite for someone else,” Honold said in a phone interview.
Call me a stupid idealist, call me a purity crusader if you want, but at some point we have to be better than the goddamn Republican party in both word and deed.
I stand by my call for Franken to resign.