Detroit Bishop Apologizes for Comparing Ariana Grande's Name to a Taco Bell Item and Grabbing Her Breast

Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, right, hugs Ariana Grande after she performed during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Detroit. Franklin died Aug. 16, 2018 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.
Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III apologized to Ariana Grande for grabbing her breast during a hug and his insensitive joke about her name after she sang at Aretha Franklin’s funeral Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Ellis, who officiated the funeral service, was quickly blasted on social media for his behavior. After Grande performed, Ellis wrapped his hand around her and pulled her towards the podium—pretty much with a handful of her breast.


Under #RespectAriana, folks sharply criticized Ellis for his actions on social media:


Ellis quickly apologized in an Associated Press interview.

“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.”


He added:

He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.

“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “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.”

He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”


To add insult to injury, he topped off his breast-touching hug with a very dumb joke.

“I’ve got to apologize because, I have to brush up. My 28-year-old daughter tells me, ‘Dad. You are old at 60.’ When I saw Ariana Grande on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” he told her. “Girl, let me give you all of your respect. Did y’all enjoy this icon? She is an icon herself.”


In response to the backlash, Ellis apologized for the poor humor.

“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.”


If you didn’t see the incident, check out the video below:

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Terrell Jermaine Starr

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

PGP Fingerprint: 96A0 B682 0C58 FCF2 CC5E B729 3E17 B489 588F D26F