DETROIT,US , September 2 : Pastor Charles H. Ellis III, who officiated Aretha Franklin’s funeral service has apologized for groping singer Ariana Grande and grazing her breast on stage. Bishop Charles H. Ellis III’s action has sparked fierce criticism online with hashtag #RespectAriana and termed it as sexual assault at Ariana at Aertha’s Funeral .
The 25-year-old pop star sang the Aretha Franklin signature hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” one of a series of tributes by musicians to America’s “Queen of Soul” at her marathon funeral attended by presidents, stars and music royalty.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis III congratulated her for the performance and wrapped his arm high above her waist, with his fingers squeezed around the singer’s chest.
Bishop Ellis 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 apologise.
“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.
“I’m really sorry you had to go thru that @ArianaGrande that groping was beyond blatant and we could all see and feel your discomfort,” wrote television host Claudia Jordan.
Ellis also apologized for a joke he made to Grande about her name: “When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he said, referring to a popular Mexican fast-food chain.