George Bush apologises 'if attempt at humour offended' after alleged sexual assault

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Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush
Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George H.W. Bush attend the "All Together Now - A Celebration of Service" at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington March 21, 2011. Reuters/Jim Young

Former United States President George Bush has apologised after a television actress accused him of touching her from behind. A spokesman for Bush has apologised for any harm caused.

In a statement supplied to news organisations like the Daily Mail and People magazine, Bush’s spokesman said the former POTUS would never intentionally cause anyone distress under any circumstance, adding that he most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour had offended actress Heather Lind. The statement from Bush’s camp comes after Lind alleged that he touched her inappropriately while he was sitting in his wheelchair.

Lind said he did not shake her hands. Instead, he touched her from behind his wheelchair with his wife by his side.

She wrote on her verified social media account Tuesday that she was "disturbed today by a photo I saw of President Barack Obama shaking hands with George H W Bush in a gathering of ex-presidents organising aid to states and territories damaged by recent hurricanes." She reportedly found it disturbing because she recognised the respect former presidents are given for having served, and she felt both pride and reverence.

"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," her post went on to say. Lind added that the ex-president told her a dirty joke.

Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath issued a statement to CNN on Wednesday regarding the allegation. In a second statement, he stressed that Bush “apologises most sincerely.”

McGrathm said Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for about five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes photos. The former president, he said, tells the same joke to try to put people at ease.

The spokesman added that on some occasion, Bush patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Bush’s camp understands that some have seen the act as innocent, while others clearly perceive it as inappropriate.

Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and director James Toback were previously accused of harassing and assaulting women. Through his spokesperson, Weinstein has "unequivocally" denied the allegations. Toback also denied these allegations to the Los Angeles Times.

The #MeToo is being used on social media to share stories of sexual harassment and assault. Lind said she was grateful for the bravery of other women.