The latest round of sexual assault allegations in the post-Harvey Weinstein era has reached all the way to George H.W. Bush, the 93-year-old former president, who issued an apology after being accused of sexual assault by actress Heather Lind.
Lind went public with her allegation in an Instagram post, which has since been deleted. In it, she described an incident almost four years ago that took place during a photo shoot.
People magazine reports that Lind’s post said she was standing next to Bush when he “touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side.” She also said Bush told her a “dirty joke.”
The content of the Instagram post was captured by the U.K. publication The Daily Mail and other outlets. The Daily Mail’s report includes a photo from the photo session in March 2014, showing Lind and Bush next to each other.
Jim McGrath, a spokesman for Bush, released a statement following the accusation, writing off the incident as an “attempt at humor.” The statement, distributed to media outlets, says: “President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind.”
Lind had a recurring role as Katy on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and more recently played Anna Strong, one of the main characters in the AMC series “Turn: Washington’s Spies.” The 2014 photo session took place in Houston at a private screening of the “Turn” series premiere.
The text of Lind’s Instagram post was accompanied by a recent photo of five former presidents in which Barack Obama is seen shaking hands with Bush Sr.
“I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served,” Lind wrote in the post. “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.”
Lind also wrote: “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. We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President’s power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy.
“What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn’t so different from a President really,” she added. “I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy. I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them. I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character.”
Heather Lind in “Turn: Washington’s Spies” (AMC)