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.

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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.”


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.

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.

An old, but relevant tweet Ariana posted about women’s choice also resurfaced.

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.

Some people found the joke funny, meanwhile, others thought it was distasteful.

“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.