The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised to singer Ariana Grande after he was accused of touching her inappropriately on stage.
Bishop Charles Ellis III greeted Grande after she performed Franklin’s hit (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman. Video footage showed him holding the 25-year-old well above her waist with his hand pressing repeatedly against the left side of her chest.
The video went viral with fans calling out the inappropriate behaviour using the hashtag #RespectAriana.
Watch the moment fans are furious over.
Speaking to The Associated Press, the Pentecostal preacher apologised for his actions.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” he said.
Instead, Bishop Ellis III’s said he hugged all the special guests who performed and spoke at the nine-hour service, and said he might have accidentally “crossed the border”.
“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 apologise,” 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.”
“When you’re doing a program for nine hours, you try to keep it light,” he told the Associated Press.
The preacher also apologised for the racially-insensitive remarks he made about Grande’s name.
“When I saw ‘Ariana Grande’ on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell. Girl, let me give you all your respect,” he had said.
Here’s what the people of Twitter had to say.