Experts: Bush groping allegations would be hard to prosecute
HOUSTON » 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.”