WASHINGTON • Former US president George H. W. Bush has issued an apology to an actress who accused him of groping her from his wheelchair while attending a screening, according to reports.
Ms Heather Lind, 34, said the incident occurred four years ago at an event to promote TV series Turn: Washington's Spies, according to the Daily Mail in Britain, which saved a screenshot of a lengthy Instagram post she wrote and later deleted.
It is the latest in an outpouring of sexual harassment allegations against powerful male figures in entertainment, fashion and finance that followed the downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who stands accused of assaulting and raping actresses.
Ms Lind said she decided to share her story after seeing Mr Bush Sr, 93, appear onstage at a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the hurricane-ravaged southern US and Caribbean.
"I found it disturbing because I recognise the respect ex-presidents are given for having served," she wrote. "But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo.
"He didn't shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke," she added.
Later on, as pictures were being taken, Mr Bush repeated the act, while "Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say 'not again'."
In a statement to the Daily Mail and the New York Daily News, a spokesman for Mr Bush did not deny the allegation but said it was an ill-judged attempt at humour.
"President Bush would never - under any circumstance - intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour offended Ms Lind," the statement said.