Aretha Franklin bishop sorry after ‘groping’ Ariana Grande

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Aretha Franklin bishop sorry after 'groping' Ariana Grande

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The bishop who led Aretha Franklin's funeral has apologised to Ariana Grande after being accused of groping her on stage.

Images show Bishop Charles H Ellis III holding Ariana high above her waist, with his fingers squeezed around the side of the singer's chest.

"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast," he told the Associated Press.

"Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar."

He added: "But again, I apologise."

The preacher said he hugged all artists, male or female, during the ceremony commemorating the Queen of Soul.

But viewers began posting images from the service when Ariana got up to sing Aretha's song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Skip Twitter post by @ArianaToday

#RespectAriana is trending worldwide after a pastor got very handsy with @ArianaGrande at Aretha Franklin's funeral pic.twitter.com/FeJQ4f3lk4

— Ariana Grande Today (@ArianaToday) August 31, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @ArianaToday

Many people felt that Bishop Ellis's hand was inappropriately high on the 25-year-old's body as he spoke to her – saying that she looked uncomfortable with the contact.

Skip Twitter post by @claudiajordan

I'm really sorry you had to go thru that @ArianaGrande that groping was beyond blatant and we could all see and feel your discomfort. #NotCool

— Claudia Jordan (@claudiajordan) September 1, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @claudiajordan

It came as others on social media had been criticising Ariana for what she was wearing to the church service, saying her dress was too short.

Some people said that the focus being on Ariana, rather than the bishop, was misogynistic.

Skip Twitter post by @AshleeMPreston

Misogyny looks like criticizing Ariana Grande for how short her skirt was— but not the fact that Bishop Charles Ellis gave her a mammogram on national television. ?

— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) September 1, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @AshleeMPreston

And argued that the pastor's embrace deserved greater attention than it was getting.

Skip Twitter post by @MaggieAstor

I think every woman can look at Ariana Grande's face and body language and viscerally feel what she's feeling. The tension. The nervous laughter. Not wanting to make a scene or make him angry. Every woman knows this feeling.
But google her and everyone's talking about her dress. https://t.co/VYikD43RnM

— Maggie Astor (@MaggieAstor) September 1, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @MaggieAstor

#RespectAriana began trending as more people saw the footage.

Skip Twitter post by @Trevornoah

What was up with that pastors hand? pic.twitter.com/M8Ypgm7fQB

— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) August 31, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @Trevornoah

And people began reposting an old tweet of hers related to consent.

Skip Twitter post by @ArianaGrande

Women's choice. ? our bodies, our clothing, our music, our personalities….. sexy, flirty, fun.
it is not. an open. invitation.

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016

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End of Twitter post by @ArianaGrande

"I hug all the female artists and the male artists," Bishop Ellis told AP.

"Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That's what we are all about in the church. We are all about love."

He added: "The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin."

It wasn't the only thing the bishop apologised to Ariana about though.

Earlier in the service he made a joke about the singer's name.

"When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell," he said to her.

Skip Twitter post by @Local4News

Funny moment during the #ArethaFranklinFuneral: Bishop Ellis tells @ArianaGrande when he saw her on the program he thought "it was a new something at Taco Bell." pic.twitter.com/Sxgh8Nnt9n

— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) August 31, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @Local4News

A lot of people found the joke funny, and it featured heavily in the conversation around the funeral.

But Bishop Ellis apologised after some thought it was distasteful.

Skip Twitter post by @Zuzu_writer

I'm gonna need Black America to stop making Taco bell jokes about LatinX people. Its not funny! #ArethaHomegoing #ArianaGrande

— Zuzu Griffin (@Zuzu_writer) August 31, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @Zuzu_writer

Skip Twitter post by @IRLinMedia

So, that Taco Bell comment aimed at Ariana Grande was very inappropriate and unnecessary at Aretha Franklin's service. That was completely disrespectful. Chucky Ellis knows better.

— Izzy Rena Langham (@IRLinMedia) August 31, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @IRLinMedia

Skip Twitter post by @Mod_Bombshell

It’s troubling that a Taco Bell joke (which was extremely ignorant) is overshadowing the fact that Ariana Grande was groped during Aretha Franklin’s memorial service. pic.twitter.com/clR9TbrgxZ

— Ash (@Mod_Bombshell) September 1, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @Mod_Bombshell

"I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community," the bishop 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."

Ariana was performing at the funeral of Aretha Franklin alongside icons like Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.

Aretha 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.

Newsbeat has contacted representatives of Ariana Grande for comment.

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