After Ariana Grande tributed the Queen of Soul with a moving rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” pastor Charles H. Ellis III called the singer onstage. As the church leader joked with Grande, he wrapped his hand around her high above the waist. Social media was quick to defend Ariana Grande after the star appeared to be groped during Aretha Franklin’s funeral.
Footage of the incident made its rounds across Twitter, and users were quick to call out the bishop. The hashtag #RespectAriana quickly emerged in support of the star.
What was up with that pastors hand? pic.twitter.com/M8Ypgm7fQB
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) August 31, 2018
The pastor apologized on Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
“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. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
Ellis continued to say that did not treat Grande any different than other artists. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”
Ellis also apologized for joking about seeing Grande’s name on the program and thinking it was a new Taco Bell food item. “I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community.”
However, the apology didn’t stop Twitter users from continuing to express their anger.
Ellis groping Ariana Grande onstage is a classic example of abuse-in-plain-sight.
His hand was on the side of her breast. Her body language did not welcome this. Yet he persisted because he knew she wouldn’t make a scene.
He owes more than a half-assed apology. #RespectAriana
— Morgan Jarrett (@msmorganjarrett) September 1, 2018
Twitter users were also quick to call out each other for commenting on the length of Ariana Grande’s dress rather than the Bishop’s conduct.
— Sweetener OUT NOW!!!🍭 (@Sweetnerotw) September 1, 2018
Of course, the idea that Ariana’s dress was the problem was quickly shut down.
She CLEARLY looked uncomfortable. I can’t believe some would expect her to defend herself on live TV one someone else’s funeral. Her dress had nothing to do with anything. What women wears will never be an invitation for assault, she never asked for it #RespectAriana
— 윌러우 ❣ (@ilsansqueen) September 1, 2018
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