President George H.W. Bush has issued an apology to a woman who alleges that the former president groped her during a photo when she was 16 years old. The incident took place in 2003 at an event in The Woodlands, Texas. The woman, Roslyn Corrigan, told TIME that Bush grabbed her rear end when they were posing for a picture, and that she was "really, really confused" by the encounter. Corrigan is the sixth woman to say that Bush groped her while they were taking a photo.
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 reaction 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?’”
TIME spoke to seven different people who all confirmed Corrigan's story prior to the first wave of accusations against the former president.
Bush family spokesperson Jim McGrath told USA TODAY that Bush did not "knowingly" want to upset anybody, and that he apologizes for his behavior.
"George Bush simply does not have it in his heart to knowingly cause anyone distress, and he again apologizes to anyone he offended during a photo op," said McGrath.
When Bush was first accused of groping women, it was initially explained away as an awkward attempt to make people feel more comfortable about his limited mobility. However, Bush was not a wheelchair user at the time that Corrigan says he groped her. This is significantly more troubling than the earlier stories, and, if true, it's pretty disgusting behavior from anyone, let alone a former president. It's also troubling that this is apparently a pattern of inappropriate behavior that stretches for nearly two decades.