In the wake of the explosive accusations of rape and sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, women are now coming forward to speak out about the sexual assault they endured at the hand of another prominent male figure: former President George H.W. Bush.
Earlier this week, actress Heather Lind came forward in a (now-deleted) Instagram post saying that the former president had sexually assaulted her, Deadspin.com reports. In her post she wrote, "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." Unfortunately, the reports of sexual assault don't stop there.
A second woman has now come forward after Lind's story was brought to her attention. Jordana Grolnick, a New York actress, recounted a photo-op with Bush and her cast back in August of 2016 at a Maine production of Hunchback of Notre Dame, where the former president crossed a major line. Grolnick explains that other actors at the time told her before the photo that Bush has a "reputation" for fondling during photos, but she didn't think much of it.
"I guess I was thinking, 'He’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?' We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him," she says. "He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, 'Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?' As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, 'David Cop-a-Feel!'"
At the time, Grolnick says that they all laughed out of discomfort. She then went on to post the photo on Instagram, but not without telling others about the incident. While she says that her father did become angry, she initially almost laughed it off: "I just thought, 'Whatever. He's a dirty old man,'" she says.
However, Grolnick acknowledges that considering recent events, it's now more important than ever to not let situations like these go.
"I don’t want to belittle Heather Lind for feeling violated," says Grolnick. "Now that the #metoo movement has brought this all to light, I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately by a man who was once the leader of the free world. He knows the power he has, and the reverence he deserves, even while sitting perhaps somewhat senile in a wheelchair. What I’ve come to realize is that if we tolerate these small comments and grazes from men on the street or former presidents, they might assume that it’s ok with us, and they may take it as permission to do who-knows-what else. I realize that making light of the situation was the wrong move. It wasn’t [okay] for him to do that to me. He wasn’t able to give me a job or a movie deal, so I didn’t feel compromised or pressured to do anything more, but the comments and assumptions about our bodies must stop, at all levels.”
It's absolutely heartbreaking to see more and more women every day coming forward with their own stories of sexual assault. If there's anything even remotely positive that can come from these horrible situations, however, it's that these women can hopefully find strength and solace in each other while encouraging others to feel like they too can come forward with their own experiences.