Bishop Charles H. Ellis, who led Aretha Franklin’s epic home going, issued an apology after photos and videos of him groping Ariana Grande went viral.
Bishop Ellis is shown holding Grande high above her waist and his fingers are squeezed tightly on the side of the singer’s chest. “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” he told the Associated Press. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar. But again, I apologize.”
— Ariana Grande Today (@ArianaToday) August 31, 2018
The preacher argued that he hugged all singers and performers during the funeral. “I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Bishop Ellis told AP. “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.” He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.” But that didn’t stop the hashtag #RespectAriana from trending.
Twitter critics noted that the discomfort was written all over the singer’s face.
— Claudia Jordan (@claudiajordan) September 1, 2018
Grande received backlash for her dress which people said were too short and inappropriate for a funeral. However, other Twitter critics want to shift the conversation from her wardrobe to misogyny on a larger scale.
Misogyny looks like criticizing Ariana Grande for how short her skirt was— but not the fact that Bishop Charles Ellis gave her a mammogram on national television. ?
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) September 1, 2018
I think every woman can look at Ariana Grande's face and body language and viscerally feel what she's feeling. The tension. The nervous laughter. Not wanting to make a scene or make him angry. Every woman knows this feeling.
But google her and everyone's talking about her dress. https://t.co/VYikD43RnM
— Maggie Astor (@MaggieAstor) September 1, 2018
An old, but relevant tweet Ariana posted about women’s choice also resurfaced.
Women's choice. ♡ our bodies, our clothing, our music, our personalities….. sexy, flirty, fun.
it is not. an open. invitation.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) December 28, 2016
Bishop Ellis also apologized for a joke he made about the singer at the beginning of the commemoration. “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he said to her.
— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) August 31, 2018
Some people found the joke funny, meanwhile, others thought it was distasteful.
— Zuzu Griffin (@Zuzu_writer) August 31, 2018
So, that Taco Bell comment aimed at Ariana Grande was very inappropriate and unnecessary at Aretha Franklin's service. That was completely disrespectful. Chucky Ellis knows better.
— Izzy Rena Langham (@IRLinMedia) August 31, 2018
It’s troubling that a Taco Bell joke (which was extremely ignorant) is overshadowing the fact that Ariana Grande was groped during Aretha Franklin’s memorial service. pic.twitter.com/clR9TbrgxZ
— Ash (@Mod_Bombshell) September 1, 2018
“I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” the bishop 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 has yet to comment.