Former US President George H.W. Bush is being accused by two women of sexual assault.
Actress Heather Lind earlier this week said the 93-year-old former president, who is confined to a wheelchair, touched her from her behind and told her a dirty joke in 2014 while posting for a photo.
"He didn't shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again," said Lind.
Another actress, Jordana Grolnick told Deadspin that Bush groped her in a similar manner in 2016, saying that “he reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, 'Do you want to know who my favourite magician is?'
"As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, 'David Cop-a-Feel!'"
Bush’s spokesman on Thursday issued an apology, saying that the joke was meant to put people “at ease.”
"At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures,” read a statement from the spokesman.
"To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”
"Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologises most sincerely."
George H.W. Bush, a Republican, served one term president from 1989 to 1993 before losing a re-election bid to Bill Clinton. His son, George W. Bush was president from 2001 to 2009.