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Bishop apologises for Ariana ‘grope’

Sunday - 02/09/2018 04:02
THE bishop who presided over the funeral of Aretha Franklin has apologised to Ariana Grande for his inappropriate conduct during the service.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, right, with Ariana Grande after she performed during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin in Detroit. Picture: AP Photo/Paul SancyaSource:AP
Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, right, with Ariana Grande after she performed during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin in Detroit. Picture: AP Photo/Paul SancyaSource:AP

THE bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral apologised Friday to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Images of the moment showed Ellis’ hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest, according to the New York Post.

Bishop Charles Ellis chats with Ariana Grande after her performance at the funeral for Aretha Franklin. Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
Bishop Charles Ellis chats with Ariana Grande after her performance at the funeral for Aretha Franklin. Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

The preacher apologised in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late on Friday.

“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 apologise.”

He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.

“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “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.”

Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, right, has apologised for appearing to touch Ariana Grande’s breast. Picture: AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, right, has apologised for appearing to touch Ariana Grande’s breast. Picture: AP Photo/Paul SancyaSource:AP

He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”

Many people posted close-up images of the moment on Twitter, tagging it #RespectAriana.

Ellis also apologised to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about seeing her name on the program and thinking it was a new item on the Taco Bell menu.

“I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”

Ariana Grande performs during Aretha Franklin's funeral in Detroit, Michigan. She has been criticised for wearing a mini-dress to a funeral. Picture: Angela Weiss/AFP
Ariana Grande performs during Aretha Franklin's funeral in Detroit, Michigan. She has been criticised for wearing a mini-dress to a funeral. Picture: Angela Weiss/AFPSource:AFP

Ellis’ touching of Grande overshadowed some criticism earlier in the ceremony concerning the short dress Grande wore for her performance. Numerous people posted criticisms online that the dress was too short for church.

“#ArianaGrande don’t know the below the knee rule for the pulpit in the black church. Somebody hand her a lap hanky and a choir robe. Bless her heart,” tweeted one, Tenisha Taylor Bell.

Grande’s representative did not return an email message seeking comment Friday.

This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.

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