Fri | Jan 18, 2019

I apologise! Bishop says sorry amid allegations of groping at Aretha Franklin's funeral

Published:Saturday | September 1, 2018 | 9:41 AM
Bishop Charles Ellis hugging Ariana Grande at the funeral service for Aretha Franklin yesterday

The bishop who led yesterday’s funeral service for Aretha Franklin has apologised to singer Ariana Grande after being accused of groping her on stage during the ceremony.

Images, which have since gone viral, show Bishop Charles Ellis III holding Grande high above her waist, with his fingers appearing to squeeze her right breast.

"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast," a report by the Associated Press quoted Ellis as saying.

"Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar. But again, I apologise," he added.

Grande was among several icons who performed at Franklin’s funeral, which was held at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

The Queen of Soul was remembered as an aunt, grandmother, friend, civil rights activist and icon of black womanhood, in a nine-hour ceremony.

She died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer, aged 76.

The service was, however, overshadowed by the hug that was witnessed by millions of people around the world.

Scores of persons began posting images from the service when Grande got up to sing Franklin's signature song ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.’

Many expressed the view that Bishop Ellis' hand was inappropriately high on the 25-year-old singer’s body as he spoke to her, suggesting that she looked uncomfortable with the contact.

There has been no official comment from Grande.

But Bishop Ellis pointed out that he hugged all artistes, male or female, during the ceremony.

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