In the wake of audio emerging last week in which GOP presidential candidate/reality TV star Donald Trump bragged about fame allowing him to get away with unsavory, sexual assault-y behavior, it appears as though women who may have been victims of the very behavior Trump described himself are beginning to come forward to detail their own personal stories. In the New York Times video embedded above, Jessica Leeds, then a businesswoman working at a paper company, describes an encounter with a young Donald Trump in first class on a commercial flight in the ’80s.
About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her. According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.
Leeds shared the story with others over the years; those people spoke to the New York Times and confirmed her account.
The other woman to come forward and speak to the Times is Rachel Crooks, who was a 22 year-old receptionist working in Trump Tower in 2005 when she says that Trump forced himself on her and tried to kiss her in one of the building’s elevators.
Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
It didn’t feel like an accident, she said. It felt like a violation.
“It was so inappropriate,” Ms. Crooks recalled in an interview. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Additionally, the Palm Beach Post tonight published the account of a Florida woman, Mindy McGillivray, who claims that she too was groped inappropriately by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach 13 years ago. According to McGillivray, Trump grabbed her ass — while Melania Trump was standing just a few feet away — when she attended a Ray Charles performance at the estate to help a friend of her’s, Ken Davidoff, who was photographing the event. (Davidoff confirmed McGillivray’s account.)
After the show, Davidoff and McGillivray were standing in a pavilion behind the main house in the middle of a group of people. To their left was Regis Philbin and his wife, Joy, according to Davidoff. To McGillivray’s immediate right was Trump and his fiancée, Melania.
“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.’’
Asked about the possibility that what she felt was Trump or someone accidentally bumping into her, McGillivray said no. “This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,’’ she said. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.’’
Trump angrily denied the claims by Leeds and Crooks when the New York Times contacted him for comment.
In a phone interview on Tuesday night, a highly agitated Mr. Trump denied every one of the women’s claims.
“None of this ever took place,” said Mr. Trump, who began shouting at the Times reporter who was questioning him. He said that The Times was making up the allegations to hurt him and that he would sue the news organization if it reported them.
“You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter as she questioned him about the women’s claims.
Asked whether he had ever done any of the kissing or groping that he had described on the recording, Mr. Trump was once again insistent: “I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”
Earlier today, multiple former Miss Teen USA contestants came forward with claims that Trump would in on them while they were dressing and undressing without permission. Trump himself bragged about doing this sort of thing in a recently surfaced interview with Howard Stern in 2005.