‘I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.’
The 2017 reckoning of bad men is upon us, and it’s long overdue. More than 60 women accused former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in October. What followed was a slew of powerful men slowly ousted one after the other—and as we survey the political climate and overwhelming culture of sexual assault in America, it is clear that it’s far from over. And yet, the 2016 revelations of a 2005 tape showing President Donald Trump bragging about how his wealth and fame allowed him to sexually assault women with impunity have been swept aside.
Before the election, town hall debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump point blank if he had ever actually carried out the actions he spoke about on the tape. After initially avoiding the question until Cooper followed up multiple times, Trump eventually said he hadn’t—chalking it up what he called “locker room talk.”
But multiple women went public with personal stories about Trump sexually assaulting them, often in exactly the same way he described while chatting with former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005. Often, what these women said mirror what Weinstein’s accusers said—lewd commentary, groping, sexual harassment, and assault. When did we stop listening to what they had the incredible courage to say?
Here is the list of allegations against the president as they stand today.
The women who accused President Trump of sexual misconduct
In a harrowing first-hand account, People magazine reporter Natasha Sotynoff recalled going to Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago in 2005 to interview Trump and his wife Melania in a story pegged to their anniversary. “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Sotynoff wrote. “Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger—a looming figure—and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.”
Later in the day, Sotynoff charges that he told her ,“You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
In a speech, Trump brushed off Sotynoff’s allegations, suggesting she was wasn’t attractive enough to warrant his interest. “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. And look at her words,” Trump said. “And you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
Jessica Leeds alleges that, in 1980, she sat next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a commercial airline flight. About 45 minutes into the flight, Trump leaned over, grabbed her breast, and tried to reach his hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere,” Leeds told the New York Times. “It was an assault.”
Trump’s former campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson attempted to brush off Leeds’ accusations, insisting that the armrests present in the first-class cabin in planes from the era Leeds says she was flying in when she was assaulted by Trump were “fixed” and therefore couldn’t be lifted. However, as some aviation experts noted, many first-class seats from that era did have armrests that could be lifted or removed.
In a speech after Leeds went public with here allegations, Trump also suggested she was not attractive enough for him to have sexually assaulted her.
Rachel Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist working at a real estate investment firm with an office in Trump Tower when she ran into Trump outside of an elevator in in 2005. She claims that, after introducing herself to The Apprentice host, he grabbed onto her hand and started forcibly kissing her. “It was so inappropriate,” she told the New York Times. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Thirteen years ago, Mindy McGillivray charges she was groped by Trump while part of a team doing photography during a Ray Charles concert at Mar-a-Lago. After Charles performed, she was standing in a group that included Trump, his wife, and TV personality Regis Philbin, among others. McGillivray said he felt Trump grab her from behind. “This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,’’ she recalled to the Palm Beach Post. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.
Temple Taggart—winner of the 1997 Miss Utah pageant, which is part of the Miss USA beauty pageant network owned by the real estate mogul—said that Trump forcibly kissed her upon their first meeting. “He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross,’” Taggart told the New York Times. “He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”
Billado was one of the five former Miss Teen USA beauty pageant contestants who spoke with BuzzFeed News about the 1997 pageant, when Trump unexpectedly walked into the dressing room where girls as young as the age of 15 were changing. The five contestants called the intrusion “shocking” and “creepy.”
In an interview on the Howard Stern show, Trump boasted about his ability to go invade the privacy of the women who participate in his beauty pageants. “I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed,” Trump said to the radio shock jock. “No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it… ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”
Sullivan told BuzzFeed News that she met Trump in 2000 while she was representing New Hampshire in Miss Teen USA. “He’d hug you just a little low on your back,” and give you “a squeeze that your creepy uncle would.” She recalled Trump entering the young women’s dressing rooms while they were changing.
Tasha Dixon was competing in the Miss USA pageant in 2001, representing Arizona at the age of 18. Like other former Miss USA contestants, Dixon told CBS News Los Angeles that Trump would frequently enter the dressing rooms without warning, sometimes when the girls were naked or topless.
“I’m telling you Donald Trump owned the pageant for the reasons to utilize his power to get around beautiful women,” she said. “Who do you complain to? He owns the pageant. There’s no one to complain to. Everyone there works for him.”
Samantha Holvey, who represented North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA pageant, told CNN in October 2016 that seeing the director of the pageant in the dressing room was extremely abnormal. According to Holvey, Trump would “step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people.” She said that at one point, Trump and his wife, Melania, both entered the dressing room and stood in the doorway.
“I thought it was entirely inappropriate,” Holvey told CNN. “I told my mom about it. I was disgusted by the entire thing. I had no desire to win when I understood what it was all about.”
“Miss USA Class of 2013: Do y’all remember that one time we to do our on-stage introductions, but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eye?” asked Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington for 2013, in a Facebook post. “Do you remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property? Oh I forgot to mention that guy will be in the running to become the next President of the United States. I love the idea of having a misogynist as the President.”
“He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room,” Searles added in a comment to the post.
CNN anchor Erin Burnett told a story about how one of her friends was sexually assaulted by Trump during a 2010 boardroom meeting. “Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested I take them also. He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on lips. I was really freaked out,” the woman, who did not want to be publicly identified, told Burnett. “After (the meeting), Trump asked me to come into his office alone. Was really unsure what to do… Figured I could handle myself. Anyway, once in his office he kept telling me how special I am and gave me his cell, asked me to call him. I ran the hell out of there.”
In a story for Yahoo News, reporter Lisa Belkin recalls how, when she was a 26-year old reporter at the New York Times in 1987, she went to a party to celebrate the opening of Wollman Rink in New York’s Central Park, which Trump had rebuilt. “I had interviewed Trump once for an article and was somehow invited to this event, which I attended with my now husband. I introduced him to Trump, we all chatted briefly, and then Bruce went off to get some hot chocolate or some such,” Belkin wrote. “After he’d walked away, Trump said there would be an even better afterparty and I was welcome to join him, but only if I came alone.”
In a lawsuit filed against Trump, makeup artist Jill Harth alleged that Trump assaulted her at on multiple occasions. She charges that, at two different business dinners in 1992, he tried to grope her under the table. The following year, during a tour of Mar-a-Lago, Trump blocked her from leaving and attempted to rape her in a hotel room. “He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again, and I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it,’” she told the Guardian. “It was a shocking thing to have him do this because he knew I was with George, he knew they were in the next room. And how could he be doing this when I’m there for business?”
In the book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, reporter Harry Hurt III recounted a frightful story of assault alleged by Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana. The Daily Beast reports:
After a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot, Donald Trump confronted his then-wife, who had previously used the same plastic surgeon.
“Your fucking doctor has ruined me!” Trump cried.
What followed was a “violent assault,” according to Lost Tycoon. Donald held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation. He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants.
“Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified… It is a violent assault,” Hurt writes. “According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘he raped me.’
Following the incident, Ivana ran upstairs, hid behind a locked door, and remained there “crying for the rest of night.” When she returned to the master bedroom in the morning, he was there.
“As she looks in horror at the ripped-out hair scattered all over the bed, he glares at her and asks with menacing casualness: ‘Does it hurt?’” Hurt writes.
Lisa Boyne told the Huffington Post about an incident in the mid-1990s when, while dining with Trump and a number of models brought to dinner by famed modeling agent John Casablancas, Trump forced the women to walk across the top of the table so he could look up their skirts and then make comments about their genitalia. “I met lots of famous, influential, wealthy people… and none of them were ever as vulgar, as disgusting, as rude, as sexist, such a low excuse for a human being that I’ve ever met,” Boyne said. “I was so deeply offended, I felt that like with Bill Cosby, the more people that come forward, the more legitimacy the story will have.”
When Kristin Anderson felt a hand reach up her skirt while chatting with friends at a Manhattan nightclub in the early 1990s, she looked over and was shocked. It was not a complete stranger groping her—the stranger’s face was one she recognized from the tabloid covers, she charged. “It wasn’t a sexual come-on. I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it, and nothing would happen,” Anderson told the Washington Post. “There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.”
“It’s a sexual assault issue, and it’s something that I’ve kept quiet on my own,” she continued. “And I’ve always kept quiet. And why should I keep quiet? Actually, all of the women should speak up, and if you’re touched inappropriately, tell somebody and speak up about it. Actually, go to the authorities and press some charges. It’s not okay.”
Speaking at a press conference with high-profile civil right attorney Gloria Allred, Summer Zervos, a constant on the fifth season of Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice, said that Trump made unwanted sexual advances against her on multiple occasions. Zervos said that, after the show’s conclusion, she met with Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles in the hopes of getting a job with Trump’s company. She alleges that, after rebuffing Trump’s advances at the meeting, she was not given a job at the company, something she believes was a direct result of her refusal to sleep with Trump.
Zervos is currently suing the president for defamation for accusing her of lying.
Cathy Heller told the Guardian that, in the late 1990s, she attended a Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-a-Lago with her family. When Trump came up to the table, Heller says he aggressively tried to kiss her. “He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she said, recalling how she pulled back to avoid Trump and almost lost her balance in the process. “And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips. … I was angry and shaken.” She noted that Trump walked away immediately after the interaction. “He was pissed. He couldn’t believe a woman would pass up the opportunity.”
Minutes after the conclusion of the third and final presidential debate, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred announced the existence of another woman accusing Trump of sexual assault. At a news conference the following day, Karena Virginia, a yoga instructor and motivational speaker, charged that Trump had groped her during the 1998 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. “I was waiting for a car to arrive to take me home. As I was waiting, Donald Trump approached me. I knew who he was, but I had never met him,” a tearful Virginia said. “He was with a few other men. I was quite surprised when I overheard him talking to the other men about me. … He said, ‘hey look at this one, we haven’t seen her before, look at those legs.’… He then walked up to me and reached his arm and grabbed my right arm. Then his arm touched the right inside of my breast. … I was in shock. I flinched.”
“’Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know who I am?’ That’s what he said to me,” Virginia continued. “I felt intimidated and I felt powerless.”
At a press conference with Allred, adult film star and director Jessica Drake accused Trump of aggressively hugging and kissing her without her permission during a 2006 charity golf tournament in Nevada. Drake charged that, after meeting Trump for the first time at the tournament, he asked her to come up to his hotel room. Bringing two female friends because she was uncomfortable visiting Trump’s suite alone, “he grabbed each of us tightly, in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission.”
After leaving, Drake alleges that Trump called and begged her to return. “What do you want? How much?” Trump allegedly told her, but Drake declined the offer. “After that I received another call from either Donald or a male calling on his behalf, offering me $10,000. I declined again, and once more gave as an excuse that I had to return to Los Angeles for work. I was then told Mr. Trump would allow me the use of his private jet, if only I accepted his invitation.”
Once again, Trump’s solicitations were reportedly rebuffed. “Collectively, his words and his actions are a huge testament to his character,” Drake said at the press conference, “that of uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement and being a sexual assault apologist. This is not acceptable behavior for anyone, much less a presidential candidate.”
Ninni Laaksonen, who was Miss Finland in 2006, said that Trump groped her while she was in New York City for an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. “Before the show, we were photographed outside the building… Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt. I don’t think anybody saw it, but I flinched and thought, ‘What is happening?’” she recalled. “Somebody told me that Trump liked me because I looked like [Trump’s wife] Melania when she was younger… It left me disgusted.”
President Trump has vigorously denied all of the charges of inappropriate sexual behavior that have been levied against him.
A lawsuit against Trump by a woman who has alleged she was raped by Trump when she was 13 years old was scheduled for a hearing on December 16, 2016. The lawsuit was dropped in November 2016, just four days before the election. The woman’s representation reportedly cited numerous threats against her. Her identity was never publicly revealed, but she charged that the assault occurred at a party thrown by billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was himself convicted of having sex with an underage girl.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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