Former President George H. W. Bush has issued an apology through his spokesperson after being accused of sexual assault by actress Heather Lind.
Lind, 34, took to Instagram to make the shocking allegations against the 93-year-old former president as a part of the viral hashtag series #metoo, the Daily Mail reported. The hashtag became a viral trend after several social media users shared their stories of sexual abuse or assault to raise awareness of how common the problem is.
"When I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo," Hind wrote in the since-deleted Instagram post. "He didn't shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke."
Lind said the former president then touched her a second time and added that Barbara was aware of her husband's actions.
"And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say 'not again,'" Lind recalled. "His security guard told me I shouldn't have stood next to him for the photo."
Lind said she believes she isn't his only victim.
"We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President's power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy," the actress explained. "He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me."
Lind said she told coworkers about the alleged abuse.
"My fellow cast-mates and producers helped me that day and continue to support me. I am grateful for the bravery of other women who have spoken up and written about their experiences," she said. "And I thank President Barack Obama for the gesture of respect he made toward George H. W. Bush for the sake of our country, but I do not respect him. #metoo."
The Daily Mail has obtained a statement from the former president's spokesperson regarding the allegations.
"President Bush would never - under any circumstance - intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind," the statement read.
Lind's Instagram post quickly went viral before she deleted it.
"What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn't so different from a President really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy," Lind added in the lengthy Instagram post. "I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them.
"I can vote for a President, in part, by the nature of his or her character, knowing that his or her political decisions must necessarily stem from that character."
While some users supported the actress for having the courage to speak out, others insisted the former president was ill.
The former president was diagnosed with pneumonia earlier this year and suffers from a rare illness that mimics Parkinson’s disease, CBS News reported. He broke his vertebra in 2015 and has been in a wheelchair since.
Sources: Daily Mail, CBS / Featured Image: U.S. Navy photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Narina Reynoso via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Invision for AMC/AP via Daily Mail, Daily Mail