Bishop Charles Ellis apologises for ‘groping’ Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin funeral
DETROIT: The bishop who officiated the funeral of Aretha Franklin has apologised for what looked like groping singer Ariana Grande on stage, a moment that was caught on the video and sparked widespread outrage.
The 25-year-old pop star sang the Aretha Franklin classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” one of a series of tributes by musicians to America’s Queen of Soul at her marathon funeral attended by presidents, stars and music royalty.
After her performance, she was congratulated by Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who wrapped his arm around her, his hand high above her waist and his fingers pressed against her chest.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know, I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said in comments to US media confirmed to AFP on Saturday.
“Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar, but again, I apologise.”
The moment drew fierce criticism online.
Ellis also apologised for a joke he made to Grande about her name: “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he said, referring to a popular Mexican fast-food chain.