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New sex assault allegations against Trump: 'He was like an octopus'

Multiple women recounted being kissed and groped by Donald Trump without their consent in reports published Wednesday, saying they came forward because the GOP presidential nominee dismissed his lewd comments caught on tape as “locker room talk,” not actual sexual aggression.

Trump, already reeling from the fallout of the 2005 recording that emerged Friday, denied the reports. His attorneys demanded a retraction from the New York Times, saying the paper’s article about two women’s claims is “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se.” If the paper does not retract the article and remove it from its website, says the letter to Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, Trump will “pursue all available actions and remedies.”

Late Wednesday, People magazine also published an account from one of its former writers who described being mauled by the GOP nominee when she went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and his wife, Melania, for a story about their first wedding anniversary.

Natasha Stoynoff wrote that when Melania, then pregnant with son Barron, went upstairs to change, Trump offered to give her a tour of the mansion. He guided her into a room, closed the door behind them, pushed her against a wall and shoved his tongue down her throat, Stoynoff wrote. She tried to “unpin” herself, but Trump only stopped when a butler interrupted them to say that Trump’s wife was returning.

“I’m not sure what locker room talk consists of these days. I only know that I wasn’t in a locker room when he pushed me against a wall. I was in his home, as a professional, and his beautiful pregnant wife was just upstairs,” Stoynoff wrote. “Talk is talk. But it wasn’t just talk in my case, it was very much action. And, just for the record, Mr. Trump, I did not consent.”

The first bombshell landed Wednesday in the New York Times. Jessica Leeds, 74, said that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to slip his hand up her skirt in the first-class cabin of a plane more than three decades ago.

“He was like an octopus,” Leeds told the paper. “His hands were everywhere.”

Rachel Crooks told the Times that Trump kissed her on the mouth when she introduced herself to him in front of an elevator in 2005 while she was working as a 22-year-old secretary in Trump Tower.

The Trump campaign accused the newspaper of trying to sink his candidacy.

“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,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller. “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.”

Baquet, the New York Times editor, did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday night.

The Palm Beach Post published a report Wednesday from a 36-year-old woman who said Trump grabbed her posterior when she was assisting a photographer friend hired by the businessman to document a Ray Charles concert at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate 13 years ago.

The thrice-married Trump has a long history of making controversial remarks about women, their appearance, his attraction to them, and their weight.

But the issue came into heightened focus when Trump was heard bragging on the 2005 video filmed by “Access Hollywood” that he can kiss women and grab their genitals without their consent because of his celebrity. He used vulgar language to describe women’s anatomy and joked about his efforts to sleep with a married woman.

The political fallout was immediate. Dozens of Republican elected officials and others who had stood by Trump when he made controversial comments about women’s appearances, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and prisoners of war said they could no longer support him.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the nation’s highest-ranking Republican, did not revoke his endorsement but said Monday that he would no longer defend his party’s standard-bearer and would spend the rest of the election focused on down-ballot races.

Trump apologized for his remarks, and said in Sunday’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton that he had never touched any woman against her will. A spokeswoman for Clinton’s campaign said the new allegations squarely place the candidate’s actions, not words, under scrutiny.

“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women,” Jennifer Palmieri said. “These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words.”

The “Access Hollywood” recording, first reported by the Washington Post, also led to a scurry among the news media for additional recordings of the GOP nominee, particularly unaired footage from his years of hosting “The Apprentice” on NBC.

In addition to the women coming forward with their allegations, several other reports have emerged since Friday, notably a CNN story on Sunday about Trump’s appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show.

The GOP nominee told the shock jock he had taken part in threesomes and described going backstage at his beauty pageants when the contestants were naked.

On Wednesday, CBS News also reported on footage from an “Entertainment Tonight” Christmas special in 1992 in which Trump asks a 10-year-old girl if she is going to ride the escalator at Trump Tower. After the girl replies, “Yeah,” Trump, then 46, says to the camera: “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

seema.mehta@latimes.com

For the latest on national and California politics, follow @LATSeema on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

10:35 p.m.: The story was updated with details from a People magazine writer who says Trump forced himself on her.

The story was originally published at 7:25 p.m.

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