Pastor Charles H. Ellis III

Charles Ellis III

What was the Accusation?

On August 31, 2018, singer Ariana Grande belted out a stunning rendition of “You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)” during Aretha Franklin’s funeral.  After leaving the stage, the pastor in charge of officiating the funeral, Charles H. Ellis III, called Grande back up in order to honor her as an “icon” herself.  As he joked about his own age and claimed he initially thought Grande’s name was a menu item at Taco Bell, he put his arm around her high above her waist and appeared to grope the side of her breast.  Grande was clearly uncomfortable as demonstrated by her resistant nonverbal cues.  Grande’s boyfriend would later claim he could see her discomfort and wanted to help her, but felt powerless to do so.  Ellis would later apologize, claiming the touching was incidental and that his behavior was a type of friendly affection he was showing everyone

Key Apologia Strategies:

Accident, Mortification, Good Intentions




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. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.

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 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.


Wootson Jr., C. R. (2018, September 1). Pastor apologizes to Ariana Grande for grazing her breast at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. Washington Post.  Retrieved from:

McDermott, M. (2018, September 1).  Aretha Franklin funeral bishop apologizes to Ariana Grande for name joke, inappropriate touching. US Weekly. Retrieved from:

Briese, N. (2018, September 1). Bishop Charles Ellis III apologizes for touching Ariana Grande, Taco Bell name joke: ‘Maybe I was too friendly’. Retrieved from: