Did The Bishop Who Officiated Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Grope Ariana Grande? Bishop Apologizes After Outrage

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III pressed his hand against Grande's breasts in a way which is really uncomfortable to watch.

Did a pastor just grope Ariana Grande?
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III pressed his hand against Grande's breasts in a way which is really uncomfortable to watch.

The Bishop who officiated the funeral of Aretha Franklin has apologized after the outrage over the way he pressed his fingers against a side of singer Ariana Grande’s breasts, according to the Huffington Post.

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led the funeral services of the Queen of Soul as a host of musical stars paid their tributes to Franklin. One of them, Ariana Grande, performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” much to the delight of the assembled audience at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. But it was what transpired after her performance that left people a little uncomfortable.

The Bishop could be seen holding Grande much above her waist, seemingly attempting to press his fingers against one of the sides of the singer’s breasts. Images of the incident soon made their way to social media, with The Daily Show host Trevor Noah among the first people to notice that something strange seemed to be going on.

Noah uploaded a short video on his Twitter account with the following caption.

“What was up with that pastor’s hand?”

At the time of writing, his tweet had gone viral with more than 17,000 retweets, with a number of Twitter users echoing Noah’s sentiment. Soon after the late-night show host’s tweet, #RespectAriana began trending on Twitter, and a number of people argued that Grande looked very uncomfortable with the pastor’s touches.

Decide for yourself whether you agree.

In the aftermath of the incident at Franklin’s funeral, beleaguered pastor Charles H. Ellis III spoke to the Associated Press, apologizing for what he had done but nevertheless claiming that groping the singer was never his intention.

“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 apologize.”

The pastor claimed that he liked to hug “artists,” and would have done the same if there was a male artist in place of Ariana. He said his hugs were all about love, and that he is sorry if his touch had been construed otherwise.

“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” 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.”

The pastor also apologized to the Hispanic community for making a racially insensitive remark at Grande, having joked that when he saw her name on the program, he thought it was a menu item for Taco Bell.

“I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said.

Grande has herself not commented on the incident so far.