Earlier this week, Heather Lind—who starred in Turn: Washington’s Spies on AMC—alleged that former President George H.W. Bush groped her during a photo-op four years ago. The spark behind the post was this appearance of all five living presidents at a Hurricane Harvey fundraiser:
Photo by Rick Kern/Getty
Per Lind in a since-deleted Instagram post:
“I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served. And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. 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. 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.”
The former president responded in a press release.
This was sent out in response to a report published by Deadspin 20 minutes later—an account from a second woman with a story like Lind’s. Per Deadspin:
That is not the end of things. Jordana Grolnick, a New York actress, has a story to tell that doesn’t sound very different at all. “I got sent the Heather Lind story by many people this morning,” Grolnick says. “And I’m afraid that mine is entirely similar.”
Rumors about Bush groping actresses in this manner have been circulating for a while. More than a year ago, a tipster passed word about the Heather Lind incident to Deadspin. We were told that Bush had, during a photo op, groped her and told her that his favorite magician was “David Cop-a-Feel” while fondling her.
In reporting out the tip, I found two actresses—Lind and Grolnick—who had accused Bush of groping, and also two Twitter users who, on April 4, 2014, made reference to the “David Cop-a-Feel” joke. (At the time, these people either didn’t respond to Deadspin’s requests for comment, or could not be reached.) Today, in the wake of the Lind story, I tried again, and Grolnick wanted to tell her story.
As a man, it’s difficult to write with any authority about this kind of stuff without feeling some measure of complicity in building this culture that women cannot escape. Even if you oppose this Mad Men-style social governance, you still benefit from it by simply being a man. I don’t know where to start in trying to fix this, but something must change. Simply saying “he’s 93 years old, stop it” and blaming it on senility is an endorsement of the status quo, and the status quo is a dystopian nightmare. Our sexual deviance is literally woven into the fabric of our national identity. This has to stop.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.