Charles H Ellis III, an American bishop, has apologised for touching Ariana Grande’s breast while on stage with her during the funeral of Aretha Franklin.
In pictures which have gone viral, the bishop is seen holding Grande close to him with his fingers squeezing a fraction of her right breast.
Following the backlash over the incident, Ellis has issued an apology, saying it was never his intention to handle the 25-year-old singer in an inappropriate manner.
“It will never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” said the bishop who oversees Greater Grace Temple in Detriot, Michigan.
“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 apologize.”
The preacher said he hugged both male and female artistes and everybody that was up on stage.
“The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin,” he said.
During the service, Ellis had also made a joke about Grande’s name.
“When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he said to her, and this, some described as distasteful.
The bishop who has suffered criticism on social media since the images went viral also apologised to Grande’s fans and the Hispanic community.
“When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes and there,” he said.
Aretha Franklin, a famous American singer and rights activist, died of cancer at age 76.