US bishop apologises for groping Ariana Grande at funeral

04:59 PM | 2 Sep, 2018
US bishop apologises for groping Ariana Grande at funeral
DETROIT - A bishop who officiated the funeral of Aretha Franklin, the American singer, songwriter, and pianist who passed away last month, has apologised for his inappropriate behaviour during the service in midwestern US state of Michigan.

Bishop Charles Ellis III awkwardly greeted American singer Ariana Grande on stage after she performed (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman. Images showed Ellis’s hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.

A video of the greeting has since gone viral, and within hours, the hashtag #RespectAriana was trending worldwide, with many viewers expressing their outrage over the clip.

The preacher later apologised at the cemetery where Franklin was interred on Friday evening and also said sorry for making a joke about her name. Ellis said: “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast ... I don’t know, I guess I put my arm around her. 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 and 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.”

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

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Ellis also apologised to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about her name.

“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.”

Grande has yet to make any comment about the matter.