At least four women have come forward to accuse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of sexual assault, despite claims he made during the second presidential debate on Sunday. At least five others said he walked in on them during various states of undress when they were contestants in beauty pageants over the years.
During the last presidential debate, Trump vehemently denied touching anyone, saying: “Women have respect for me, and I will tell you: No, I have not,” according to NPR.
The debate took place less than 48 hours after audio and video surfaced of Trump and then Access Hollywood reporter Billy Bush using lewd language to refer to women, and Trump saying he just kisses women without consent and even grabs them in their nether regions because he is a “star.”
Yet, the New York Times dropped an account of two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who say Trump groped them. Leeds said Trump felt her up on a plane, and Crooks said Trump kissed her on the mouth after just meeting her in an elevator. Both told close friends about being assaulted by Trump at the time. A third woman, Mindy McGillivray, also accused Trump of groping her in a story published by The Palm Beach Post shortly after the Times article appeared.
PEOPLE reporter Natasha Stoynoff said Trump also attempted to force himself on her while she was interviewing him in 2005 at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate Mar-a-Lago. “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,” she wrote.
Three of the alleged incidents happened in the early to mid-2000s, while Leeds’ incident was said to occur 30 years ago.
Trump’s senior communications adviser called the Times article “fiction”:
“For the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” Jason Miller said in a statement. He added: ”It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.”
And that concludes the groping allegations. Onto the peeping.
CBS 2 Los Angeles reports that Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona in 2001, told the TV station that Trump just came “waltzing in” to a dressing room while contestants were nude or half-nude as they changed into bikinis during a pageant.
“He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Others girls were naked,” said Dixon.
BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday that four women in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Trump walked into their dressing room while they were changing, some as young as 15. Only one, Mariah Billado, used her name publicly.
“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” Billado said. She said Trump responded with something like, “‘Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.’”
“I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else,” he said. “And you know, 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.”
In response to these allegations, a Trump spokesperson released a statement to US Weekly:
“These accusations have no merit and have already been disproven by many other individuals who were present. When you see questionable attacks like this magically put out there in the final month of a presidential campaign, you have to ask yourself what the political motivations really are and why the media is pushing it. Here’s the reality – Mr. Trump has a fantastic record of empowering women throughout his career, and a more accurate story would be to show how he’s been a positive influence in the lives of so many.”