George H.W. Bush groped #MeToo

In May 2012, my husband, Bob, and I toured New England, Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC, as an anniversary treat. We stopped in Kennebunkport Maine for a night or two, and I joked with Bob that I hoped I’d get a chance to say hi to Barbara Bush – I called her Babs – at the local grocery store.

Little did I know that I’d see her and her husband while we ate dinner at the recommended Italian spot, Grissini’s, that night.

The couple sitting at the table to our left asked for a photo with them as the Bushes were leaving the restaurant, and we asked for a photo as well. Both the president and Barbara Bush were very gracious. When we said it was our anniversary, Barbara asked how many years, that triggered a little discussion about marriage longevity these days. That year we were celebrating forty-two years.

We got one of the servers to take our picture – in fact, she took two shots. And during both, the former president rubbed my buttocks with the palm of his right hand.

I was shocked, and then I chalked it up to the antics of a dirty old man. However, even though I told Bob and a few close friends family members, I was afraid to come forward publicly about it.  After all, I came from the generation of women who always remain silent when things like that happen. I also feared that outing the former president was a huge no-no and might embarrass his wife who was so charming to us. That is until I found out  how many other women he has treated the same way.

Looking back at the photo, I wonder if his secret service people and his wife knew what he was doing. And I wonder how they all would have reacted had I called him on it that night. He probably thought he had every right to grope me and many other women because he’s a former president of the United States.

I wrote a blog post after we returned from our trip in 2012, sharing this photo and the poem I wrote about the incident (see http://madelinesharples.com/archives/1979). Unfortunately, the poem didn’t tell the true story.

Well, it’s about time I did.

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And huge thanks to my writing friend, Susan Weidener, for her encouragement. Here’s a link to her piece on sexual harassment and bullying.

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Comments

  1. Madeline, How courageous of you. I’m truly stunned. Although it has been in the news about George H.W. Bush, to hear this happened to you at a chance encounter in a restaurant reveals the depth of his sexual misconduct. Very important story. And I am incredibly honored that my story proved to be a spark in some way for going public with this revelation.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      Thanks, Susan,
      I really thought hard about doing this. My husband didn’t want me to go public. However, I know this story needed to get out. I lived with it inside too long. Thanks again for your inspiration. All best.

  2. Madeline, thanks for taking a stand on what happened all those years ago. If we don’t speak up, no matter when, we only encourage continued behaviors. The excuses of “dirty old man” or “he didn’t mean to” don’t work any longer. It’s becoming too habitual and too easy to get by with such acts of degradation. Thanks again for your courage!

  3. A well-told outing, Madeline, of a long-kept secret. It’s always more interesting when the men are famous; but, of course, that’s part of what makes them think they have the right to touch our bodies.

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