Four women came forward Wednesday night with allegations of Donald Trump sexually assaulting them.
The New York Times began the wave of accounts with a bombshell report on two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who say Trump groped them. Both had told close friends of being assaulted by Trump, but neither had gone public with their story until Wednesday. A third woman, Mindy McGillivray, also accused Trump of groping her in a story published by the The Palm Beach Post shortly after the Times article appeared. And later Wednesday, People writer Natasha Stoynoff said Trump had attempted to force himself on her while she was interviewing him.
Three of the alleged incidents happened in the early to mid-2000s, while one was 30 years ago. Two occurred at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s estate in South Florida. All four paint a disturbing picture of a man who 11 years ago was recorded boasting he can sexually assault women at will because of his fame.
Leeds, now 74, said she was seated next to Trump on an airplane three decades ago when the businessman grabbed her breasts and attempted to reach up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”
Crooks, who was working as a receptionist for a firm located in Trump Tower in 2005, said she met Trump outside an elevator in the building. According to Crooks, Trump shook her hand and would not let go, and then started kissing her on the mouth.
Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, called the Times article “fiction” and appeared to accuse the newspaper of plotting on behalf of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“For the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” Miller said in a statement. He added: ”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.”
Trump himself vehemently denied the allegations in an interview with the Times. He threatened to sue the paper if it published the story and called a Times reporter a “disgusting human being.”
“I don’t do it. I don’t do it,” he told the paper of his remarks about groping women on a 2005 recording that was released Friday. “It was locker room talk.”
McGillivray, the Florida woman who spoke to The Palm Beach Post, said Trump groped her at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2003.
“This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab,” McGillivray told the paper. “It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.’”
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied McGillivray’s allegations.
On People.com, Stoynoff detailed a 2005 trip to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump. Trump took the reporter on a tour of the Florida estate, and stopped in one room he said she had to see.
“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,” she wrote.
People’s editor-in-chief, Jess Cagle, released a statement Thursday saying the magazine stands by Stoynoff’s story:
We are grateful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story. Ms. Stoynoff is a remarkable, ethical, honest and patriotic woman, and she has shared her story of being physically attacked by Donald Trump in 2005 because she felt it was her duty to make the public aware. To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again. We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened.
The Washington Post on Friday published the 2005 recording in which Trump boasted of kissing women without their consent and grabbing them “by the pussy.” The recording upended the presidential campaign and many people, including Vice President Joe Biden, pointed out that Trump’s brag constituted sexual assault.
Asked about the tape during Sunday’s debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump denied sexually abusing anyone.
“Women have respect for me, and I will tell you: No, I have not,” Trump replied when asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if he had actually done the things he talked about in the recording.
Trump has been repeatedly accused of groping women, with allegations dating back decades. Temple Taggart, a contestant in a Trump-owned beauty pageant, said earlier this year he kissed her on the mouth without her consent in 1997. CNN’s Erin Burnett recounted a similar story last week about a friend who said Trump tried to kiss her during a meeting in 2010.
“Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested I take them also,” Burnett said her friend told her. “He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on lips. I was really freaked out.”
Cassandra Searles, who was crowned Miss Washington in a Trump-owned contest in 2013, wrote on Facebook earlier this year that Trump had “continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”
Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, also accused the hotel magnate of raping her in a divorce deposition. She later backtracked on that claim, but said she felt “violated” while having sex with her then-husband.
And Jill Harth, a former model, said Trump groped her under a table and attempted to force himself on her at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump has denied these allegations.
In the wake of Wednesday’s allegations, the Trump campaign plans to amplify attacks on former President Bill Clinton, telling Bloomberg the campaign has found women who say they were assaulted by the former president.
“We’re going to turn him into Bill Cosby,” said campaign CEO Steve Bannon, according to Bloomberg.
“This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words.”
This article has been updated to include further allegations against Trump and a statement from the editor-in-chief of People magazine.