New York Times reporter on George H.W. Bush's response to allegations

Geroge H.W. Bush apologizes

Last Updated Oct 26, 2017 7:45 PM EDT

George H.W. Bush, the widely-respected 41st President of the United States, apologized Thursday as a second actress came forward to accuse him of inappropriate touching. 

"To anyone he has offended," a spokesman said, "Mr. Bush apologizes most sincerely." 

Actress Jordan Gronlick claims Bush grabbed her bottom after a stage performance in Maine in 2016. Gronlick says the incident took place during a group photo with other cast members and Bush's wife, Barbara. 

Another actress, Heather Lind, wrote on Instagram, "Bush sexually assaulted me while posing for a...photo."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the former president said because the 93-year-old is in a wheelchair, Bush's arms fall on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. 

George H.W. Bush issues apology to actress

The statement reads in part: "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." 

"The word 'good-natured' did stick out to me from that statement because part of the conversation we're having now is about what sexual harassment is," New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor said.

Kantor was one of the reporters who broke the story -- three weeks ago -- about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual assault of women. 

"We were as staggered as anybody else by the impact," Kantor said. "We did not anticipate these rolling waves." 

On Thursday, veteran political journalist Mark Halperin was suspended as a contributor to MSNBC after being accused of sexually harassing five women he used to work with at ABC News. 

"We see that there have been a number of high profile cases including as recently in the last 24 hours in which men have had to leave their jobs because of these allegations," Kantor said. "So part of the shift that we're seeing now is that this can be a career ender." 

Hundreds of women in politics in California signed a petition saying they had witnessed or experienced dehumanizing behavior by men. Lawmakers plan to hold public hearings on sexual harassment next month.