The Breakdown: What You Need to Know About the Donald Trump Sex Scandals


The now-infamous Access Hollywood tapes kicked off a firestorm of controversy for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. His incendiary comments provoked widespread accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct, harming Trump’s standing with many women and giving Hillary Clinton’s campaign an easy line of attack against him.

Perhaps even more concerning than the so-called “locker room” talk have been the thirteen women who have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct. These allegations, some of which stem all the way back to the 1980s, paint a picture of a chauvinistic billionaire who felt that his vast wealth afforded him a special power over women.

Trump has soundly denied every single accusation and says that he intends to sue the accusers after the election is over. Is he telling the truth? Here’s what we know so far about Trump’s alleged victims and the incidents surrounding their claims, presented in chronological order by incident.

Jessica Leeds – circa 1980

Her story: Jessica Leeds, 74, claims that she was 38 years old when she found herself sitting next to Trump on an airplane. Shortly after the passengers had been served their in-flight meal, she alleges, Trump wordlessly began fondling her.

“He was grabbing my breasts, and trying to turn me towards him, and kissing me,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “After a bit, that’s when his hands started going… I was wearing a skirt, and his hands started going towards my knee and up my skirt. And that’s when I said, ‘I don’t need this,’ and I got up.”

Leeds apparently noticed that the man across the aisle could see the unwanted sexual contact and hoped that he would help put a stop to it.

“The guy in the seat across the aisle could see. And I kept thinking, maybe the stewardess is going to come and he’ll stop, but she never came,” she recalled.

Trump’s response: The Trump camp released a statement after The New York Times broke the story about Leeds’ accusation.

“This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” the statement read. “To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.”

“Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack. This is a sad day for the Times,” the statement finishes.

The man across the aisle: Trump’s campaign claims that it tracked down the man who Leeds believes witnessed Trump’s sexual misconduct. That man, 54-year-old Anthony Gilberthorpe, categorically denies that Trump did anything wrong.

“I have only met this accuser once and frankly cannot imagine why she is seeking to make out that Trump made sexual advances on her. Not only did he not do so (and I was present at all times) but it was she that was the one being flirtatious,” he told the New York Post.

“What she said about Trump is wrong,” Gilberthorpe added. “I mean, no decent human being could sit by and have a woman go on television and tell the United States of America — accuse an individual of sexually molesting. It’s wrong for Trump, it’s wrong for me. But you know something else? It’s wrong for the American people.

Jill Harth – 1992

Her story: Harth first met Trump in 1992, when she and her then-fiancé were working as beauty pageant promoters and wanted to do business with him. She claims that from their very first meeting, Trump aggressively pursued her, leading to an “attempted rape” at Trump’s palm beach home.

“At the time I was very shocked, shocked was the word. And I am the type of person, even still, I get kind of a delayed reaction to things. It was a shock and I pushed him off of me. And I was, I said to him, ‘What are you doing, why are you doing this?’ … It was unwanted and aggressive, very sexually aggressive,” she told WNYC.

Harth filed a civil suit against Trump in 1997, which Trump settled, and the two apparently remained on friendly terms until Trump categorically denied the claims.

Trump’s response: “Mr Trump denies each and every statement made by Ms Harth as these 24-year-old allegations lack any merit or veracity,” the Trump campaign said in July.

At the time, Trump called the lawsuit “a desperate attempt to settle a case they can’t win,” possibly referring to a separate lawsuit involving American Dream Enterprises, a company owned by Harth’s husband. That case was also settled for an undisclosed sum.

Nothing but good things”: Harth had been spotted attending Trump rallies in early 2016, a move that she now claims was merely to offer her services as a makeup artist to the candidate. However, she was quoted in early 2016 as saying: “I saw him [Donald] recently, and he said I looked good. I have nothing but good things to say about Donald.”

Kristin Anderson: early 1990s

Her story: Kristin Anderson, 46, claims that she was at a popular Manhattan nightclub with a friend when Trump sat down next to her and began groping her. He allegedly slid his fingers up her miniskirt and across her inner thigh before touching her vagina over her underwear.

“He was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows,” she told The Washington Post.

“We all sort of brushed it off and moved on,” Anderson continued.

Trump’s response: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks released a statement soundly dismissing Anderson’s allegations: “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous,” the statement read.

Other facts: Anderson does not recall many details about the incident other than the alleged groping by Trump and that it took place on a red velvet couch in The China Club. She did not remember where the incident had supposedly taken place until her memory was jogged by a New York Post reporter who heard about the incident second-hand, and she had originally not wanted to come forward with the allegations.

Cathy Heller – 1997

Her story: Cathy Heller had been enjoying a Mother’s Day brunch at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate with her husband, her three children, and her in-laws when Trump allegedly kissed her on the mouth against her will.

“He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she recalled. When Heller tried to wriggle out of his grasp, Trump would not let her.

“And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.” She says that she turned her head to get away, but Trump just kissed her on the side of the mouth. “He kept me there for a little too long, and then he just walked away.”

Friends and relatives have also corroborated Heller’s retelling of the incident.

“I remember she was really freaked out,” a relative said under condition of anonymity. “He was very forceful … She really was definitely affected by this man who was very aggressive toward her.”

Trump’s response: “The media has gone too far in making this false accusation,” spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement. “There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort. It would have been the talk of Palm Beach for the past two decades.

“The reality is this: for the media to wheel out a politically motivated Democratic activist with a legal dispute against this same resort owned by Mr. Trump does a disservice to the public, and anyone covering this story should be embarrassed for elevating this bogus claim,” the statement continued.

Temple Taggart – 1997

Her story: Temple Taggart, a former Miss Utah, claims that she was 21 years old when Trump forcefully kissed her on the month when the two were introduced.

“He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ 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,” she told The New York Times.

She claims that a similar incident took place during a meeting Trump Tower, where Trump kissed her on the lips and told her that she would have to pretend to be 17 years old to advance her modeling career.

Trump’s response: “I don’t even know who she is,” Trump retorted on NBC News. “She claims this took place in a public area. I never kissed her. I emphatically deny this ridiculous claim.”

The New York Times also reported that Trump has an aversion to kissing strangers on the lips.

Karena Virginia – 1998

Her story: Karena Virginia claims that she was waiting for a car to pick her up while visiting Flushing, Queens, for the U.S. Open.

“As I was waiting Donald Trump approached me,” she said during a press conference with Gloria Allred. “I knew who he was, but I’d never met him. 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!’ As though I was an object rather than a person. He then walked up to me and reached his right arm and grabbed my right arm. Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast,” Virginia continued.

“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. I felt intimidated and I felt powerless.”

Trump’s response: “Discredited political operative Gloria Allred, in another coordinated, publicity-seeking attack with the Clinton campaign, will stop at nothing to smear Mr. Trump,” said Trump spokeswoman Jessica Ditto. “Give me a break. Voters are tired of these circus-like antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton.”

Allred has deep ties to the Clinton campaign, having served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention and donated large sums to Clinton and other Democratic candidates.

Mindy McGillivray — 2003

Her story: Mindy McGillivray claims that she was groped by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2003, refusing to speak about the incident to anyone other than family or friends until Trump claimed during the third presidential debate that he had not sexually assaulted women.

She allegedly visited the estate with her friend, photographer Ken Davidoff, for a party attended by several A-list celebrities.

“All of a sudden I felt a grab, a little nudge. I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct. I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned,” she told The Palm Beach Post.

As to whether she might have mistaken an accidental bump as a lewd gesture, McGillivray replied: “This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab. It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.”

Trump’s response: “There is no truth to this whatsoever,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement.

Rachel Crooks – 2005

Her story: Then a 22-year-old receptionist for a company located inside of Trump Tower, Rachel Crooks claims that she encountered Trump outside of an elevator and introduced herself. When they shook hands, Crooks alleges, Trump would not let go.

“[Trump] kissed me directly on the mouth,” Crooks told The New York Times. “It was so inappropriate. I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”

Crooks called her sister, Brianne Webb, who recalled: “She was very worked up about it. Being from a town of 1,600 people, being naive, I was like ‘Are you sure he didn’t just miss trying to kiss you on the cheek?’ She said, ‘No, he kissed me on the mouth.’ I was like, ‘That is not normal.’”

Trump’s response: A lawyer served The New York Times with a demand for retraction of the story, which claimed: “Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se. It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”

The candidate also took to Twitter to dispute the claims within the story, calling it a “total fabrication.”

Natasha Stoynoff – 2005

Her story: People writer Natasha Stoynoff’s self-penned account described an incident at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate where Trump supposedly lured her into a room alone.

“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,” Stoynoff recalled.

“Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers,” she continued. “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, when Stoynoff attempted to interview Trump, he allegedly told her: “’You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?’”

Trump’s response: “Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story. Because it did not happen!” Trump rebutted in a tweet, shortly after he soundly denied the allegations at a Florida rally.

Melania denies everything: In her story, Stoynoff claims that she bumped into Melania Trump and the two shared a friendly chat. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, though, Melania denied that the interaction ever took place.

The butler speaks up: “No, that never happened. Come on, that’s just bull crap…Everybody is just jumping on the train…I think you’re going to see even more of it between now and the election. But these incidents never happened,” said Anthony Senecal, the butler likely referred to by Stoynoff.

Ninni Laaksonen – 2006

Her story: The most recent accuser to come forward is Ninni Laaksonen, a former Miss Finland who competed in the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant. She told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that Trump groped her outside of a taping of “Late Show with David Letterman.”

“Before the show we were photographed outside the building,” she said, according to a translation by the Telegraph. “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?’”

The beauty queen also claims that she attended house parties with her fellow contestants that were also attended by Melania, where she allegedly learned a disturbing fact.

“Somebody told me there that Trump liked me because I looked like Melania when she was younger,” she said. “It left me disgusted.”

Trump’s response: During an appearance on Good Morning America on Thursday, Trump said: “The stories are all totally false.”

Jessica Drake – 2006

Her story: Jessica Drake, a porn star and sex educator, claims that Trump offered her $10,000 to have dinner and go to a party with him after kissing her and two friends on the lips, without their permission.

“He asked me for my phone number, which I gave to him,” she said at a press conference with Gloria Allred. “Later that evening, he invited me to his room. I said I didn’t feel right going alone, so two other women came with me. In the penthouse suite, I met Donald again. When we entered the room he grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each of us on the lips without asking for permission. He was wearing pajamas.”

Later, Drake claims, Trump tried to bargain with her to get her to return to his penthouse. “Donald then asked me ‘What do you want?’ ‘How much?’” before offering $10,000 and the use of his private jet.

Trump’s response: Trump has categorically denied all the accusers’ claims, but he singled out Drake’s in particular. “And she’s a porn star. You know, this one that came out recently, ‘He grabbed me and he grabbed me on the arm.’ Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before,” he said.

Summer Zervos – 2007

Her story: Summer Zervos is a former Apprentice contestant who claims that she was victimized by Trump on two occasions. During a visit to Trump Tower to discuss a potential job, Zervos claims that Trump said goodbye by kissing her on the mouth. On the second occasion, she had dinner plans with Trump in Los Angeles but met him at his hotel beforehand.

“He came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed and he pulled me towards him,” said Zervos. “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast … he walked up, grabbed my hand, and walked me into the bedroom.” When she refused, Trump allegedly thrust his genitals at her.

Trump’s response: While Trump claimed that he “vaguely remembered” meeting Zervos, he also noted that he “never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago.”

Cassandra Searles – 2013

Her story: Cassandra Searles, who was Miss Washington USA 2013, posted a picture to Facebook of Miss USA’s class of 2013, with a caption that called out “one guy” that “treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes.” In the comment section, Searles clarified her allegation:

“[Trump] probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room,” she wrote.

Trump’s response: While he has not yet replied to Searles’ allegations directly, Trump issued a blanket statement to dismiss his accusers’ claims.

“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,” he said in a statement.



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