Ariana Grande is not planning to pursue action against the Detroit bishop who appeared to grope her on stage during Aretha Franklin’s memorial service, Detroit police announced.
Grande had finished performing a tribute to Franklin when she received a hug from Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, whose hand appeared to rub the side of her breast. As the Detroit Free Press reported, Grande does not believe it was intentional.
Detroit police checked in with Grande’s camp after the service after receiving a number of phone calls from people concerned that she had been improperly touched.
“We received some phone calls from citizens and saw (social media posts) that there may have been some kind of inappropriate contact at Aretha Franklin’s funeral between Bishop Ellis and Ariana Grande,” Detroit Police Capt. Jevon Johnson told the newspaper. “We reached out to her representatives. They said she completely took it as an accident and was ready to move on.”
The incident drew national attention, as it took place on live television in front of millions of viewers, and prompted an apology from Ellis III. After facing backlash, the bishop said he had no intention of groping the singer.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” he told the Associated Press (via the BBC). “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar.”
Ellis added that he hugged all the performers, both male and female, at Aretha Franklin’s memorial service.
Many had spoken out against Ellis III and in support of Ariana Grande in the wake of the incident, with video of the moment spreading on social media. To many women’s rights advocates, the apparent grope in full view of the audience and people watching at home was the epitome of the harassment many women face every day.
I think every woman can look at Ariana Grande's face and body language and viscerally feel what she's feeling. The tension. The nervous laughter. Not wanting to make a scene or make him angry. Every woman knows this feeling.
But google her and everyone's talking about her dress. https://t.co/VYikD43RnM
— Maggie Astor (@MaggieAstor) September 1, 2018
As the Orlando Sentinel‘s Shannon Green noted, the incident showed the necessity of the #MeToo movement.
“You can argue about whether or not the pop star was an appropriate choice to sing at Franklin’s funeral. You can even argue about whether or not Grande’s dress selection was appropriate for the setting,” she wrote.
“But the arguments about Grande’s place and attire are irrelevant to the fact that the bishop was wrong to put his hands on her in that way. And Ellis should have known better considering the fact that the nonsexual side church hug is something every churchgoing man and woman learns somewhere right after communion.”
But Ariana Grande seems to have moved on from the incident, not speaking about it again and declining to pursue an investigation against Ellis.