Two Southern California women came forward Friday to accuse Donald Trump of accosting them, the latest in a spate of sexual misconduct allegations buffeting the Republican presidential nominee.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” described darting around a Beverly Hills hotel bungalow to avoid Trump’s kisses and wandering hands in 2007. Kristin Anderson, a onetime aspiring model, said Trump slipped his hand up her skirt and touched her vagina in a New York City nightclub in the early 1990s.
Both women said they decided to go public because of the emergence of a video last week in which Trump describes how he can kiss women and grab their genitals without their consent because of his celebrity, assertions he later dismissed as “locker-room talk.”
“You do not have a right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” Zervos said at a news conference.
She and Anderson joined several other women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct since he said at Sunday’s second presidential debate that he had never acted in the manner he described on the recording. One said Trump slipped his hand up her skirt on an airplane, another said he kissed her without her consent at Trump Tower and two others described separate episodes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Trump angrily rebuffed all of the claims, dismissing the women as “sick” fame-seekers. He implied that the woman who described the airplane encounter wasn’t attractive enough to warrant his attention.
"Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you," he told the crowd at a campaign rally in Greensboro, N.C.
Trump asserted the new revelations were a “setup” meant to hurt his bid for the presidency. As he has in recent days, he repeatedly suggested that forces were conspiring against him and his supporters.
“The whole thing is one big fix. It’s one big ugly lie. It’s one big fix,” he said.
Trump trained his ire on the news media, particularly the New York Times, which published the first two accusers’ accounts this week. In a new twist, he asserted billionaire and Times shareholder Carlos Slim was behind the negative news coverage. Bringing up the new foe in his speech, Trump repeated several times that Slim is from Mexico.
“Reporters at the New York Times are not journalists,” Trump said. “They're corporate lobbyists for Carlos Slim and Hillary Clinton.”
Clinton, the Democratic nominee, pointed to the growing list of accusations against Trump.
"The disturbing stories keep coming," she said, adding that they weren't limited to his treatment of women and referring to his derogatory comments about Mexicans, Muslims and others.
"There’s a long list," she said at a fundraiser at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. "This is who Donald Trump really is. We know that. Now we have to demonstrate who we are. America is better than this."
Anderson told the Washington Post she was at a crowded nightclub talking with friends when she suddenly felt fingers moving up her inner thigh and touching her underwear over her vagina.
Anderson said she pushed the hand away, turned to look at who had touched her and recognized Trump. She told friends about it over the years, but decided to speak out publicly this week after hearing other women’s experiences with Trump, she told the Post.
“It’s a sexual assault issue, and it’s something that I’ve kept quiet on my own,” said Anderson, now 46 and working as a photographer in Southern California. “And I’ve always kept quiet. And why should I keep quiet? Actually, all of the women should speak up, and if you’re touched inappropriately, tell somebody and speak up about it. Actually go to the authorities and press some charges. It’s not OK.”
Trump said Anderson’s account was not credible because he never sits alone at clubs.
Zervos, appearing shaken with eyes welling with tears, said she contacted Trump in 2007 seeking a job. They met in New York and he later called her, dubbed her his “O.C. angel” and proposed dinner during a planned trip to Los Angeles, she said.
Zervos said she was summoned to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she expected to eat at a restaurant. Instead, she was ushered to Trump’s bungalow. Trump tried to kiss her with an open mouth repeatedly, put his hand on her breast and thrust his genitals at her, Zervos said.
“Dude, you’re tripping right now,” Zervos said she told Trump as she sought to stop his advances.
Zervos, who identified herself as a Republican, said she had frequently been asked about Trump since he began his presidential run because of her appearance on the fifth season of “The Apprentice,” his reality show. The Huntington Beach resident said she was always complimentary, but felt anguished internally over his conduct and tried to contact him in April with no success.
Zervos, now 41, said she decided to speak publicly after hearing the recording of Trump speaking crassly about women.
“I want to be able to sleep when I’m 70 at night,” said Zervos, sitting alongside her attorney, Gloria Allred, who is known for staging media spectacles in taking on politicians of both parties over their treatment of women.
Trump said he “vaguely” recalled Zervos from “The Apprentice” but denied her allegations.
“To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago,” he said. “That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life.”
Mehta reported from Los Angeles and Mason from Charlotte. Times staff writers Michael A. Memoli in Seattle and Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles contributed to this report.