'Ashamed' Franken says he won't quit US Senate over groping accusations

Nov 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Al Franken, trying to salvage his political career, said on Sunday he does not plan to resign but called himself "embarrassed and ashamed" by his behavior toward women who have accused him of groping or inappropriately touching them.

Franken, a Democrat and former comedian who has represented Minnesota in the Senate since 2009, said in a round of media interviews -- his first since the allegations surfaced on Nov. 16 -- that he looked forward to returning to his job on Monday.

"I'm embarrassed and ashamed. I've let a lot of people down and I'm hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust," Franken told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Franken resisted comparisons between his behavior and that of Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama who has been accused of improper conduct involving teenage girls decades ago.

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Al Franken through the years
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Al Franken through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 1: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on the nomination of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, on Capitol Hill, February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions was approved by the committee in an 11 to 9 vote. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Bumble Bee Al Franken (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Al Franken during 'The Franken and Davis Show' skit on October 21, 1978 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 19: Al Franken attends City Fair Benefit for Cystic Fibrosis on June 19, 1983 at Bloomingdale's in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Backstage with Al Franken at the Shadow Convention. (Photo by Rebecca D'Angelo/Sygma via Getty Images)
Actor Al Franken relaxing at Kaufman Astoria Studios. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Al Franken attends the New York Friars Club Roast September 28, 2002 in New York City. The black-tie annual event was held in honor of Chevy Chase at the New York Hilton. (Photo by Graham Morrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: Al Franken's new book 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' is seen August 21, 2003 in New York City. Fox News is suing the Franken and publisher Penguin arguing that the book's use of the phrase 'Fair and Balanced' is a trademark infringement. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 28: Political humorist Al Franken does a television interview on the floor of the FleetCenter on the third day of the Democratic National Convention July 28, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. Under heavy security, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is expected to accept his party's nomination later in the week. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Al Franken of the Air America Network reporting on the floor of the Republican National Convention during the second night at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)
Al Franken at Earth to America! which airs on TBS Sunday, November 20 at 8 p.m. 10423MC_16017.JPG (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for Temp Account)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 25: Comedian and talk show host Al Franken was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the Human Rights Campaign's Gala Dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel on March 25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Al Franken waves flag May 9, 2006, prior to his lecture at the 92nd Street Y in New York, NY. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN -OCTOBER 21: U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken wave to the crowd at a rally October 21, 2008 at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Clinton told the crowd of more than 2,000 that Franken needs to win in order secure the 60 Senate seats needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. (Photo by Cory Ryan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: Minnesota Democratic senate hopeful Al Franken is shown at a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on January 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Franken and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who held a slender lead following the election, are currently locked in a legal battle over a recount that put Franken ahead by 225 votes out of 2.9 million cast. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 07: US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) (R) hugs a friend during a swearing in reenactment ceremony on Capitol Hill July 6, 2009 in Washington, DC. Last month a Minnesota court ruled that Al Franken won the Minnesota senate seat beating out Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sotomayor, now an appeals court judge and US President Barack Obama?s first Supreme Court nominee, will become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, listens to testimony on medical debt and bankruptcy before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Minnesota Senator Al Franken works on his laptop in Washington DC. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
Democratic US Senator for Minnesota Al Franken in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 23: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens to testimony from Melodee Hanes, acting administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at a Senate Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee hearing on Protecting Our Children: The Importance of Training Child Protection Professionals.' (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 4: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks at a news conference to discuss the Affordable Care Act case being heard at the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Today the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - JULY 8: Senator Al Franken during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Going Dark and data encryption in Washington, USA on JULY 8, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: United States Senator Al Franken attends the 2016 Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at The Edison Ballroom on February 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 07: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is interviewed by Roll Call in his Capitol hideaway about his upcoming Jeopardy appearance, April, 07, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 9: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks to reporters at a news conference dubbed #WeThePeople outside the Capitol on June 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Senate Democrats unveiled a new legislative proposal that will reform campaign finances and ensure fairer elections. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken gestures during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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"I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to be held accountable through the ethics committee," said Franken, whose behavior is being investigated by the Senate ethics panel. "And I'm going to hopefully be a voice in this that is helpful. ... Again, I respect women. What kills me about this is it gives people a reason to believe I don't respect women."

In a separate interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Franken, one of the leading liberal voices in the Senate, said has no plans to quit.

When asked if he had considered resigning, Franken said: "No, no. The ethics committee is looking into this and I will cooperate fully with it."

Pressed about stepping aside and allowing a woman to take his seat, Franken told Minnesota Public Radio, "I'm committed to working as hard as I can here in the Senate for the people of Minnesota."

Franken's office had previously issued statements in which he either apologized or said he could not remember behaving in the manner the women have described. He has not denied any of the allegations.

Franken was first accused of sexual misconduct by radio broadcaster Leann Tweeden. She said Franken had forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO war zone tour, and a photo showed him with his hands over her chest while she was sleeping.

Four days later, a woman named Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken had touched her buttocks while the two were being photographed in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair.

Franken has apologized to Tweeden, and has said he does not remember the incident with Menz. Last week, two other women told the Huffington Post Franken had touched their buttocks in separate incidents. The article did not provide the names of those two accusers.

"I don't remember these photographs, I don't," Franken told the Star Tribune. "This is not something I would intentionally do."

"I have been reflecting on this," Franken told Minnesota Public Radio of the allegations. "I want to be a better man."

Franken is among a long list of celebrities and politicians who have been accused of sexual misconduct. The recent wave of accusations, some of them dating back for decades, began in October.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Frank McGurty and Will Dunham)

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