(KMSP) - Sen. Al Franken returned to work at the United States Capitol Monday where he spoke publicly for the first time regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Four women have now accused the U.S. senator of sexual misconduct. Three women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while taking photos with them in separate incidents at campaign events.
Radio host Leann Tweeden was the first woman to come forward, accusing Franken of kissing and groping her while on a USO tour in 2006. She also released a photo of Franken grinning and reaching for her chest, as if to grope her, while she slept on a military aircraft during the tour.
At the press conference on Monday, Franken said he recalled the incident differently from Tweeden, but "I feel you have to respect women's experience."
"I apologized to her and I meant it," he said. "I'm was very grateful that she accepted."
In a separate interview with Fox 9's Paul Blume, Franken called the photograph "inexcusable" and said "I'm ashamed and there's no excuse for it."
Franken also said he did not remember taking photos with the three women that have accused him of grabbing them, but "one is too many who feel I have done something disrespectful and that I hurt them and for that I am very sorry."
Franken read a prepared statement to the public and everyone "who has counted on me to be a champion for women."
"To all of you, I just want to again say I am sorry," Franken said. "I know there are no magic words that I can say to regain your trust. I know that’s going to take time. I’m ready to start that process and I know it starts with going back to work today.”
Franken will now face a Senate ethics investigation, which he says he will "cooperate completely with." There is no word yet on when such an investigation will begin.
Franken told Fox 9 the allegations have caused him to do some serious reflection.