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The Bishop Who Had His Arm Around Ariana Grande At Aretha Franklin's Funeral Has Apologised

"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast. ... I don't know, I guess I put my arm around her."

Aretha Franklin's funeral took place yesterday and Ariana Grande was one of many stars who paid tribute in song. She performed a rendition of "Natural Woman".

Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

After her performance she was joined onstage by Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who led Franklin's funeral.

Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

People noticed that while talking to Grande he put his arm around her and his hands ended up near the side of her breast.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

People said that Grande looked uncomfortable.

She looks noticeably uncomfortable and clearly trying to get away without causing a scene. This video pisses me off https://t.co/UxN3NBY4Ei

And they felt that it was deliberate.

you can tell how uncomfortable she is. Men like this are truly disgusting https://t.co/QEgJ8FqFd8

Fans started tweeting with the hashtag #RespectAriana.

#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. Men really need to get their sh*t together https://t.co/AEqr7aAi1m

THIS IS SO DISGUSTING AND DISRESPECTFUL 😤 #RespectAriana

When asked about the incident, the bishop apologised in an interview with the Associated Press.

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 apologise."

The bishop said he hugged everyone. He said: "I hugged 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."

He also apologised for saying: "When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell."

ariana’s reaction to him saying ‘ i thought ariana grande was a new menu item at taco bell ‘ #ArethaFranklinHomegoing https://t.co/hdwsgOrpj6

"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."

Grande has not made any comment about the incident herself. Hours after her performance, however, she did make an appearance on social media and posted this image of Aretha Franklin in her Instagram story.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ariana Grande's reps for comment.

Ikran Dahir is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.

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