The Bishop From Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Apologized for Groping Ariana Grande

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The Bishop From Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Apologized for Groping Ariana Grande

Aretha Franklin’s funeral was filled with tender eulogies and stirring musical performances befitting a send-off for the Queen of Soul. Unfortunately, it also included officiating Bishop Charles H. Ellis III groping Ariana Grande and making a racist joke about her name.

Images of Ellis touching Grande’s breast—rather than putting his arm around the singer’s shoulders or waist—went viral.

I don’t care what you think about Ariana Grande, her music or her dress. This is wrong. That bishop’s hand should not be on her breast: I just saw this because I’ve been working and not watching

— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 1, 2018

Earlier in the service, Ellis had made a racist joke about Grande’s name. “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program,” he said. “I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”

On Saturday, Ellis apologized to Grande via an interview with the Associated Press. “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” said Ellis. “I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”

He also apologized for joking about her name. “I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” he said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”

Ellis wasn’t the only man at Franklin’s funeral whose behavior towards Grande attracted criticism. Former President Bill Clinton, who appeared bored or tired during other segments of the six-hour long memorial, stared at Grande with an intensity that, in light of his history, was creepy as hell.

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