It’s easy to lose track of all of the accusations of sexual harassment and assault that have come out in the past two and a half months. You say to yourself “I need a break” and you go offline for a day and when you come back, there are like a dozen more people you need to cancel. The stories have been coming in such a steady stream that I don’t actually blame people for A) needing a break and B) forgetting about some of the accusations. So here’s a refresher: last month, several women came forward with their stories about George HW Bush groping them from his wheelchair. Literally all the stories were about Bush in his post-presidency, in declining health, and using the same “David Cop-a-Feel” joke as he assaults the women standing closest to him. Well now, in the wake of the Roy Moore stuff, a woman has come forward to say that George HW Bush groped/assaulted her when she was just 16 years old. You can read her full story here at People Magazine.
Roslyn Corrigan was sixteen years old when she got a chance to meet George H.W. Bush, excited to be introduced to a former president having grown up dreaming of going into politics. But Corrigan was crushed by her encounter: Bush, then 79 years old, groped her buttocks at a November 2003 event in The Woodlands, Texas, office of the Central Intelligence Agency where Corrigan’s father gathered with fellow intelligence officers and family members to meet Bush, Corrigan said. Corrigan is the sixth woman since Oct. 24 to accuse Bush publicly of grabbing her buttocks without consent.
“My initial action was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” Corrigan told TIME, speaking publicly for the first time about the encounter. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything. What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?’”
Corrigan said the incident happened while she was being photographed standing next to Bush. Five other women have made similar claims against Bush in recent weeks. Seven people, including family members and friends, confirmed to TIME that they had been told about alleged groping by Bush of Corrigan prior to the other recent allegations.
“George Bush simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone harm or distress, and he again apologizes to anyone he may have offended during a photo op,” Bush spokesperson Jim McGrath said in a statement to TIME. Previously, McGrath said Bush “has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner,” additionally attributing the act to his diminished height after being confined to a wheelchair since 2012. Bush was standing upright in 2003 when he met Corrigan.
Corrigan said that to this day, some of the responses she gets to her story are dismissive but she said she feels emboldened to speak out after seeing other women come forward, and hopes more will do so after hearing her account.
“I don’t know, maybe it never really hit people that I was a child at the time and that goes beyond a guy being inappropriate in the workplace to a peer or somebody in his age range,” she said. “I was a child.”
I believe you, Roslyn Corrigan. Roslyn told her mother just moments after it happened, and Roslyn told friends about it at the time too. It seemed like so many of Bush’s victims were just stuck, paralyzed by the oddity and discomfort of the situation that they didn’t know what to do or say. How do you tell an ex-president that they need to keep their hands to themselves? How do you do that when you’re 16 years old and your dad works at the CIA? (Also: the CIA keeps an office in Texas???)
Photos courtesy of Getty.