Bishop at Aretha Franklin's funeral apologises after Ariana Grande 'grope' accusations : Evewoman - The Standard
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Bishop at Aretha Franklin's funeral apologises after Ariana Grande 'grope' accusations

It was supposed to be a day to celebrate the life and legacy of legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin. But the iconic star's funeral became shrouded in controversy, after viewers of the 'homecoming' service – which was broadcast around the world – claimed that Bishop Charles H Ellis inappropriately touched singer Ariana Grande, 25.

ALSO READ: Photos from Aretha Franklin's final send off

Ariana had reportedly been selected to perform at the ceremony by the late star's family after they were moved by her rendition of Natural Woman on Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show.

She sang the hit again at Aretha's funeral, but fans were left outraged when the Bishop appeared to get a little too close to her during the ceremony. He was accused of touching Ariana's breast while hugging her on stage, and also cracked what many dubbed to be an inappropriate joke at her expense.

The Bishop said: “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”

He later apologised after widespread criticism swept social media.

“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. I don’t know, I guess I put my arm around her,” he told the Associated Press. [...] Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise. [...]  hug all the female artists and the male artists.”

He continued: “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. [...] The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin. [...] I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to her whole community,” he continued. [...] When you’re doing a programme for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”

ALSO READ: Aretha Franklin's body arrived for viewing in gold-plated casket

Outraged fans of the singer had posted close up screenshots of the Pastor touching Ariana alongside the hashtag “#RespectAriana”.

One wrote: “I’m sorry you had to do through something uncomfortable like that! I love you and you are so strong @ArianaGrande.”

Another commented: “I have the creepy-crawlies all over my body after watching that. #RespectAriana”

A third posted: “How could you grope someone at a FUNERAL on LIVE TV? The nerve.”

 

 

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