Bishop Charles H. Ellis III is issuing a formal apology to Ariana Grande.
The bishop who led Aretha Franklin's funeral apologized in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday for his behavior towards Grande, after he was accused of touching her inappropriately. Ellis held the 25-year-old pop star well above her waist, leading fans watching the live-streamed service to call him out on social media for seemingly grabbing her breast.
"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 said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar. But again, I apologize."
"I hug all the female artists and the male artists," he continued. "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."
I don’t care what you think about Ariana Grande, her music or her dress. This is wrong. That bishop’s hand should not be on her breast: I just saw this because I’ve been working and not watching pic.twitter.com/ixVhgYBJTN— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 1, 2018
Ellis' hand placement wasn't the only thing that alerted fans on Friday. He also made a joke about mistaking Grande for a menu item at Taco Bell. While greeting Grande at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, Ellis said, "I’ve got to apologize because I have to brush up my -- my 28-year-old daughter tells me, ‘Dad, you are old at 60.'"
“What did you do? What happened?” Grande asked with a laugh.
"When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” Ellis explained to the crowd. “Girl, let me give you all your respect.”
In his interview with the AP, Ellis also apologized for the joke. "I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there," he said.
Grande performed Franklin's hit, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," at the service on Friday. See more in the video below.