Bishop Charles H. Ellis III has apologised after the video of him groping Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin’s funeral stirred outrage.
In case you missed it: right after the Dangerous Woman crooner gave a soul-stirring rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the event, the preacher who officiated the funeral awkwardly greeted her, and from the clip, he could be seen wrapping his hand tightly around Ariana’s side and reaching for her breast, before saying, “I thought that [Ariana Grande] was a new something at Taco Bell.”
Ariana was visibly uncomfortable and even tried to ward him off, but he held on.
See the outrage his actions triggered, the preacher apologised in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday. “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
The preacher claimed he hugged all the performers during Friday’s service. “I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” he 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. The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
He also apologised for the taco bell joke. “I personally and sincerely apologize 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.”
Ariana Grande has yet to speak about this as at press time.