Multiple women have come forward alleging that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump engaged in nonconsensual and “inappropriate” behavior toward them, described by at least one woman as an “assault.”
Footage unearthed Friday by the Washington Post of Trump discussing kissing and groping women in 2005, seemingly without their consent, has generated sustained backlash against the Republican candidate. The controversial comments led moderator Anderson Cooper to question Trump during Sunday’s debate about whether he had committed the acts of sexual assault he described having done in the tape.
Trump denied he had engaged in the behavior, chalking up the comments to “locker room talk.”
Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks came forward alleging, according to a New York Times piece published Wednesday, that Trump had “touched them inappropriately.” Leeds, now 74, says that three decades ago, while seated next to Trump on a plane, the now-presidential contender grabbed her breasts and attempted to force his hand up her skirt.
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“He was like an octopus,” she told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”
“It was an assault,” Leeds said.
Crooks described an encounter with Trump in an elevator when he “kissed [her] directly on the mouth” while she was employed at a company located in Trump Tower.
“It was so inappropriate,” Crooks said. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Neither woman reported the incidents to the police, but they reportedly had discussed the events with others at the time.
Trump denied both of the women’s allegations in an interview with a New York Times reporter on the subject. Trump called the reporter “a disgusting human being.” His campaign has since sent a letter to the outlet demanding they retract the piece and issue an apology for printing it.
Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for PEOPLE, published her account Tuesday of an incident she alleges took place during a 2005 interview with the business mogul in Mar-a-Largo, a Palm Springs, Florida, estate owned by Trump.
“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us,” wrote Stoynoff. “I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat …. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.”
Stoynoff concluded her story by noting that she “did not consent” to what occurred.
A spokesperson for Trump responded to the allegation by claiming that there is “no merit or veracity to this fabricated story,” according to PEOPLE.
Speaking at a Thursday rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump again denied these new allegations. Discussing the reporter who wrote about her alleged experience in PEOPLE, Trump questioned why she would not have told her story when it happened and used her physical appearance to question her account.
“You take a look, you look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think,” Trump said at the rally. “I don’t think so, I don’t think so.”
Mindy McGillivray, now 36, similarly alleged in an interview with the Palm Beach Post that Trump had groped her 13 years ago at Mar-a-Largo.
“All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge,” said McGillivray, “I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly.”
When questioned about whether the encounter may have been accidental, McGillivray said no.
“This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,’’ she told the Palm Beach Post. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.’’
The allegations of nonconsensual behavior and assault come amid other claims that Trump behaved inappropriately with women. CBS News uncovered previously unaired 2002 footage of Trump commenting about a young girl that he was “going to be dating her in ten years.”
A former Miss Arizona claims that Trump used to walk in on pageant contestants while they were naked—a claim Trump once made during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show.
Trump has faced similar allegations in the past.
Trump faced a lawsuit in 1997 from Jill Harth alleging that he had engaged in “unwanted sexual advances, which included touching of plaintiff’s private parts in an act constituting attempted ‘rape.’” The suit was later dropped, and Trump denied the incident occurred.
Journalist Harry Hurt III’s 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, described an event where, according to the New York Times, Trump “was said to have raped” his wife at the time, Ivana. The book contained a statement from Ivana at the urging of Trump’s lawyers where she said: “I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
Trump denied that such an act ever happened, and Ivana told CNN last year that news stories about the incident were “totally without merit.”