High-profile lawyer Gloria Allred called a press conference on Friday announcing her decision to represent a former “Apprentice” contestant who alleges that Donald Trump sexually accosted her at a hotel in 2007.
Allred told reporters that Summer Zervos, a contestant in season five of “The Apprentice” TV show, met with Trump in 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel to discuss business after she lost the contest.
But instead of job opportunities, Trump greeted her with a kiss on the mouth, touched her breast, and led her into his bedroom, she said.
“She got the Donald all over her” instead of a job, Allred said.
Zervos, who contacted Allred to represent her and said she is not seeking litigation, gave her own statement describing her experience with Trump. She said Trump treated her like “an object” and that after hearing leaked audio and denials of inappropriate sexual conduct during the second presidential debate, she felt she “had to speak out” about his behavior.
She told reporters that she felt she had been “penalized for not sleeping with him” when she was looking for job opportunities with his company in 2007.
After the alleged incident, Zervos said Trump told her to never call his private number again and to contact him through his office. She said she called Trump’s office in April 2016 to reconnect with him and “clear the air” after what happened between them. But she never heard back, she said.
“You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” Zervos said, addressing Trump directly.
Trump, in a lengthy statement late Friday, categorically denied her accusations and launched into attacks on the press and Allred.
“I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on ‘The Apprentice’ over the years. To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California,” Trump said as part of the statement.
“Beyond that, the media is now creating a theater of absurdity that threatens to tear our democratic process apart and poison the minds of the American public. When Gloria Allred is given the same weighting on national television as the President of the United States, and unfounded accusations are treated as fact, with reporters throwing due diligence and fact-finding to the side in a rush to file their stories first, it’s evident that we truly are living in a broken system.”
Zervos, who says she is a Republican, is one of several women this week to come forward accusing Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct. Trump has categorically denied the accusations and launched attacks on the women making them. He has not commented specifically on Zervos’ allegations.
He, his campaign, and his supporters have said that the accusations are part of a vast conspiracy trying to take him down. And they have also publicly invoked skepticism over the women’s decisions to come forward now, years after the alleged incidents took place. Allred, who says “many other women” have approached her about their own experiences with Trump, countered that argument in the press conference.
“Many accusers ask why these women are coming forward now,” Allred said. “The answer is simple. Some may have thought they would not be believed … some may have feared the wrath and retaliation of Mr. Trump and some of his supporters.”
She added: “You think this is all one large conspiracy – I have news for you, Donald. There is no conspiracy. It’s you and you alone who brought yourself to this precipice. Your campaign may try to discredit the accusers. But women will not be silenced by this tactic.”
Allred noted that “the White House is not a locker room,” and said “Americans deserve better than a president who believes he can grope women at his pleasure.”
Just before the press conference, another woman came forward and said Donald Trump had approached her in a New York City nightclub decades ago. The woman, Kristin Anderson, alleged Trump put his hand up her skirt in a non-consensual, sexually aggressive manner.