- Kevork Djansezian/Reuters
Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos announced Tuesday that she filed a lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump claiming he defamed her by insisting her story of being sexually accosted by him in 2007 was a lie.
She added that the lawsuit, filed in New York, would be dropped immediately and for “no monetary compensation” if he retracted his previous statements about her and said that her story “was the truth.”
Joined by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred at a news conference, Zervos said she was left with no choice but to file the suit after two months had passed since she first called on Trump to retract his statements, which he has not done.
“I wanted to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to retract his false statements about me and the other women who came forward,” she said.
Zervos said Trump left her with “no alternative” other than to file a lawsuit “in order to vindicate my reputation.”
During the press conference, Allred said Zervos had passed a polygraph examination regarding her claims. She also said the lawsuit would be dropped if Trump said Zervos’ story “is and was the truth.”
“No one is above the law, including the president-elect, soon to be president of the United States,” she said.
In October, Allred told reporters that Zervos, a contestant on season five of “The Apprentice,” met with Trump in 2007 at the Beverly Hills Hotel to discuss business after she lost the contest. Instead of job opportunities, Allred alleged, Trump greeted Zervos with a kiss on the mouth, touched her breast, and led her into his bedroom.
Zervos said Trump treated her like “an object,” and that after hearing leaked audio of his boasting of being able to grope and kiss women regardless of their consent and his denials of inappropriate sexual conduct, she felt she had to speak out. She also 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.
“You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” Zervos said in October, addressing Trump directly.
Trump released a lengthy statement after Zervos’ October press conference, categorically denied her accusations.
“I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on ‘The Apprentice’ over the years,” he said. “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.”
“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.”
He also published a series of tweets discrediting the many women who came forward to accuse him of similar behavior, calling the allegations “totally made up nonsense to steal the election” and “totally phoney [sic] stories.”
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.