Following Grande’s performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at Franklin’s homegoing service, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III spoke to Grande, holding her by her chest and pressing his fingers against the side of her breast.
“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 told the AP on Saturday. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
Ellis went on to say that he hugged both male and female performers at the service.
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,” he said.
The bishop also apologized to Grande and the Hispanic community over a joke he made about her name.
While talking to the Sweetener singer, Ellis said that he wasn’t aware of who she was and thought she was a menu item at the fast food chain Taco Bell.
“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.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.