August 21, 2019
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Former Maine Senate candidate the fourth woman to say George H.W. Bush groped her

DONNA CARSON | REUTERS
DONNA CARSON | REUTERS
Former President George H.W. Bush smiles as he listens to Republican then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney speak in Houston March 29, 2012.

A fourth woman has come forward saying former President George H.W. Bush groped her, this time a state Senate hopeful, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Amanda Staples — who was running as a Republican to represent the Kennebunkport area in the state Senate in 2006 — said in an Instagram post the former president grabbed her butt during a photo opportunity at the time.

“I rationalized it in my mind that he had become a dirty old man in his later years,” Staples wrote in her post, in part, adding, “I’ve thought about this and if I had a daughter, I’d never tell her to shrug it off because he was [p]resident. I can only imagine how many women have had their butt grabbed in a photo op.”

The latest accusation apparently pokes a hole in Bush’s initial explanation for the behavior, as a spokesman said that because he’s been wheelchair-bound for five years, his arm “naturally falls on the lower waist of the people with whom he takes pictures.”

Staples said her experience took place more than a decade ago, and in the photo of herself with the former president she posted on Instagram, Bush is standing.

Staples’ remarks follow those by at least three other women, including Bangor native and author Christina Baker Kline, as well as an actress who was performing at a theater near the Bush family’s summer compound in Kennebunkport in 2016.

Another actress who performed at the Ogunquit Playhouse told the Press Herald the former president had a reputation at the venue.

“A lot of backstage people — stage hands and wardrobe people — warned us that last time he’d come in he was a little creepy,” Emma Sohlberg, who performed in a play there last summer, told the newspaper. “I got the impression that every time he sees a show, the same thing happens.”

In all of the cases, Bush, now 93 and wheelchair-bound, is said to have grabbed the women inappropriately while posing for photographs.

A Bush spokesman released a statement this week in part explaining the behavior by saying that he “has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years” and at least partially suggested the touching was accidental because of that, although he acknowledged that “on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

“Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely,” the spokesman, Jim McGrath, said.

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