Bishop Who ‘Inappropriately Touched’ Ariana Grande At Aretha Franklin’s Funeral Apologises

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A prominent bishop has apologised to the singer Ariana Grande after his inappropriate behaviour at the funeral of Aretha Franklin.

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Friday, August 31, leading the service and introducing various speakers and singers who were there to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul.

Ariana Grande was at the funeral, and performed a moving version of Franklin’s iconic song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

After the performance, Ellis put his arm around Grande’s waist. However, as images and video from the event show, the bishop’s hands seem to be well above the singer’s waist, and judging by the look on Ariana’s face, she does not feel comfortable.

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The preacher has now apologised to Ariana in an interview since the event.

As the Daily Mail reports, he said:

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 bishop said he hugged all the performers at Friday’s eight-hour service:

I hug all the female artists and the male artists. 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.

Many people took to Twitter to highlight the Bishop’s actions, with the hashtag #RespectAriana trending at the time.

One person wrote:

this breaks my heart so much. she was so uncomfortable and it looked like she didn’t know how to react. i watched a clip of her moving and moving, maybe wanting him to remove his hand but he still didn’t stop. disgusting. #RespectAriana

Another added:

The fact that a woman was disrespected multiple times on live television by men who are in positions of power blows my mind. Just imagine what happens behind closed doors. This was totally inappropriate, a short dress is NOT an invitation. #RespectAriana

Ellis also had to apologise to Grande, her fans and the Hispanic community after attempting to make a joke about her name, comparing it to an item ‘on the Taco Bell menu’.

He said:

I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.

The whole encounter between Grande and Ellis was awkward from start to finish. The singer had just finished performing when the bishop put his arm around her and tried to share his joke with the audience.

He said:

When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.

Ariana tried to laugh off the joke, visibly uncomfortable with the whole bizarre encounter.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.