Bishop Charles H. Ellis III officiated the funeral of legendary music icon Aretha Franklin, and so part of the job was greeting Ariana Grande onstage. His exchange with the pop singer was quite awkward, as the bishop admitted he didn't know who Ari was. He then joked that he thought it was a "new something at Taco Bell." A racist comment he apologized for in a statement to Associated Press. "When you're doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there," Ellis explained.
But a particular physical detail that especially made things seem uncomfortable to the audiences watching from home was his hand placement. A lot of people posted closeup photos and videos on Twitter, with the hashtag #RespectAriana.
What was up with that pastors hand? pic.twitter.com/M8Ypgm7fQB— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) August 31, 2018
#RespectAriana is tending worldwide right now because Bishop Charles H. Ellis III was seen inappropriately groping Ariana Grande on live tv during Aretha Franklins funeral.— 🌹 (@EXOTICBLVCKSKIN) September 1, 2018
Men really need to get their sh*t together pic.twitter.com/AEqr7aAi1m
As seen in videos and photos from the event, his hand was a bit too high, and his fingers inappropriately pressed against her chest. Ariana also seems visibly distraught.
The Church leader apologized for this, as well in his interview with the Associated Press. "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 AP. "Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize." He added, "The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin."
Image via Getty