clear
Monday November 20th, 2017 4:03PM

Experts: Bush groping allegations would be hard to prosecute

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HOUSTON (AP) — Allegations that former President George H.W. Bush inappropriately touched six women involve potential crimes punishable by fines or jail time, if they had been prosecuted.

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.

The 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."

Bush has issued repeated apologies through a spokesman "to anyone he has offended." The spokesman, Jim McGrath, said in a statement last month that Bush has used a wheelchair for roughly five years, and that "his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures." In a statement Monday, McGrath said, "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 did not respond to a request for additional comment Tuesday.

Actress Heather Lind was the first to accuse Bush of groping her, saying in an Oct. 24 Instagram post that Bush "touched me from behind" and told "a dirty joke" while they posed for a photo at a Houston screening of the AMC television series "Turn."

Five more women have come forward since then, including Roslyn Corrigan, who told Time magazine Monday that Bush groped her as they took a photo in 2003, when Corrigan was 16, during an event in The Woodlands, a Houston suburb.

The AP generally does not identify victims of sexual assault without their consent, but is using the names of women who have spoken publicly on social media or in news reports.

Three of the incidents are reported to have occurred in Texas. Shook said that under Texas law, touching someone's buttocks over the person's clothing would most likely be grounds for a misdemeanor assault charge, with only a $500 fine and no jail time.

In Maine, where Bush is accused of grabbing two women, those allegations could give rise to a charge of assault or unlawful sexual touching, punishable by up to a year in jail, said Walt McKee, a defense attorney in Augusta, Maine.

And in Pennsylvania, where a retired newspaper journalist has accused Bush of touching her during an event in Erie, the state's law against indecent assault could apply, said Richard Settgast, an adjunct law professor at Penn State University.

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.

___

Follow Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant .

___

Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv .

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Experts: Bush groping allegations would be hard to prosecute
Allegations that former President George H.W. Bush inappropriately touched six women involve potential crimes punishable by fines or jail time, if they had been prosecuted
6:20PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Gunman picking random targets kills 4 in Northern California
Gunman who chose targets at random opens fire in rural California town, kills 4
6:13PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: McConnell: GOP still hopes to keep Alabama seat
The Senate's top Republican says the party still hopes to retain an Alabama Senate seat at the center of a scandal involving GOP nominee Roy Moore
6:01PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Sessions denies lying on Russia, pleads hazy memory
Sessions cites a hazy memory and exhausting campaign in defending himself from allegations that he misled members of Congress about Russia
5:38PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Trump in Asia: A break from the past but uncertain results
President Donald Trump returns from 12-day trip to Asia with few concrete accomplishments in hand and leaving uncertain Asian capitals in his wake.
5:33PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Louisiana man to be freed after judge tosses 1971 rape case
A Louisiana man who has spent nearly 50 years in prison will be freed after a judge overturned his conviction in the kidnapping and rape of a nurse
5:26PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP National News
Land policies to be tested in Bundy standoff trial in Vegas
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was cast Tuesday as the leader of a conspiracy to enlist armed militia members to force the federal agents, "at the end of a gun," to abandon efforts to collect his cattle from public rangeland
4:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Police hunt killer after 4th slaying in Tampa neighborhood
Police and federal agents have converged on a Tampa neighborhood to hunt for the killer believed responsible for gunning down four people for no apparent reason in just over a month
4:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Man to be freed after 1971 conviction tossed
A Louisiana man who has spent nearly 50 years in prison will be freed after a judge overturned his conviction in the kidnapping and rape of a nurse
4:08PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Gunman picking random targets kills 4 in Northern California
Gunman who chose targets at random opens fire in rural California town, kills 4
6:13PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: McConnell: GOP still hopes to keep Alabama seat
The Senate's top Republican says the party still hopes to retain an Alabama Senate seat at the center of a scandal involving GOP nominee Roy Moore
6:01PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Senate panel approves Trump choice to lead Homeland Security
A key Senate committee has approved President Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security
5:59PM ( 24 minutes ago )
McKennie scores in debut as US ties Portugal 1-1
Weston McKennie scored in his U.S. debut, goalkeeper Ethan Horvath allowed a seemingly harmless cross to drop between his arms for an equalizer and the Americans tied Portugal 1-1 in their first match since failing to qualify for next year's World Cup
5:55PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Eagles remain No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll
The Philadelphia Eagles remain No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 poll. The New England Patriots are No. 2 and the Pittsburgh Steelers slipped to third.
5:50PM ( 33 minutes ago )