WASHINGTON (AP) — A television actress has accused former President George H.W. Bush of touching her from behind while she was posing for a photo alongside him and telling her a dirty joke.
The former president's office apologized Wednesday and offered an explanation.
"At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures," according to the statement. "To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and 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."
People magazine reported that Heather Lind said in a now-deleted Instagram post that the incident took place while she was posing for a photo with Bush during a promotional tour for her AMC series "TURN: Washington's Spies." Lind appears alongside Bush, who is seated in a wheelchair, in a photo together at a Houston screening of the series in 2014.
Bush spokesman Jim McGrath earlier told The Associated Press in a statement: "President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind."