Experts say Bush would be hard to prosecute; Another woman steps forward

HOUSTON -- Another woman has come forward to say former president George H. W. Bush groped her during a photo-op, according to CNN.

The woman, who was not named in the report by CNN, said she attending a fundraiser for Bush's 1992 re-election campaign when the president touched her buttocks.

"We got closer together for a family photo and it was like, 'Holy crap!'" she told CNN. "It was like a gentle squeeze."

While she thought at the time that it may have been an accident, recent reports from other women about similar behavior from Bush, now 92, made her reconsider the incident.

Related: Bush apologizes again after 16-year-old comes forward

The woman is one of several to come forward in recent weeks to say that the president touched them inappropriately during photo ops. Texas Monthly reports, as of Thursday night, the total number of women is eight.

Bush's spokesman, Jim McGrath, did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Bush has previously apologized in response to allegations.

"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," McGrath said last week, after a sixth woman accused the former president of groping her.

Lawyers say the allegations involve potential crimes punishable by fines or jail time, if they had been prosecuted.

The Associated Press reports, however, all but one of the cases is ineligible under state laws that limit when a prosecution can begin after an alleged crime, and several lawyers interviewed said that it would be difficult to win a conviction against Bush, who has vascular parkinsonism, a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson's disease.

"You're still going to be facing prosecuting a 93-year-old man in a wheelchair that's a former president," said Toby Shook, a lawyer who previously served as a prosecutor in Dallas. "I doubt if you could ever find a jury that would ever want to convict him."

There's no indication prosecutors are planning to pursue a case against Bush. Jordana Grolnick, an actress who alleged that Bush groped her behind last year as his wife, Barbara, stood nearby, told The Associated Press that she has no plans to report the 41st president to authorities. That appears to be the only incident that hasn't reached the local statute of limitations on how long a crime can be prosecuted after it occurs.

At least six incidents occurred in three states over a decade. In all of the cases, the women say Bush touched their buttocks as they stood next to him to take photos. All three states have laws against touching someone without their consent.

The women's stories broadly follow the same outline: Bush patted them below the waist as they stood next to him to take photos, sometimes with a joke about his favorite magician or writer being named "David Cop-a-Feel."

A key question in any prosecution, the lawyers said, would be whether the suspect touched the victim for sexual gratification or by accident. While age and physical disability would factor into any determination, Settgast said, "I don't necessarily think that just because someone's infirm, they wouldn't be able to be held accountable."

Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, is a beloved figure in both Texas and Maine, the two states where he lives. Two days after the first woman accused Bush of misconduct, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that Bush was "a statesman and role model to me." Days later, Bush joined his son, former President George W. Bush, on the field before Game 5 of baseball's World Series to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

(USA TODAY and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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