Bishop Ellis Apologizes for Groping and Insulting Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin Memorial
"Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize."
Yesterday, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III presided over Aretha Franklin's 8-hour all-star memorial service in Detroit. But as the world watched Ellis officiate the "homegoing" procession, many noticed a disturbing interaction between Ellis and Ariana Grande after the singer performed "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Videos and images from the exchange (see below) display a visibly uncomfortable Grande attempting to keep her distance from the Bishop as he wrapped his arm around her back and groped the side of her chest at the podium. He'd take the opportunity to make a tasteless Taco Bell joke at her expense. And at the conclusion of the ceremony, was made to answer for the groping and joking onstage.
According to CBS News, Ellis apologized for the incident following almost immediate backlash. In an interview with The Associated Press, the Bishop explained: "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 continues: "I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you're doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there."
Grande and her team have yet to respond.