Published with permission for Alternet.
On Wednesday, in the midst of the Republican National Convention, new allegations emerged of sexual assault committed by Donald Trump. This is the third woman who has accused the GOP presidential nominee of sexual assault.
The latest allegations of unwanted sexual contact by Trump come from Jill Harth, a makeup artist and business associate of the billionaire in the early 1990s. According to Harth, Trump sexually harassed her on numerous occasions, including cornering her in his daughter Ivanka’s bedroom and attempting to have sex with her. In 1997, Harth filed a lawsuit detailing Trump’s alleged repeated efforts to force her to have sex with him, as well as a number of other outrageous and inappropriate behaviors.
Harth, who gave an interview to the Guardian earlier this week, says she first met Trump back in 1992, when she and her business partner and then boyfriend George Houraney were trying to recruit Trump as a partner in their beauty pageant event. The New York Times cites a 1996 deposition in which Harth describes their first meeting with Trump, when Houraney gave a business presentation to woo Trump into becoming a financial backer of the project. According to Harth, that marked the first of Trump’s many unwanted sexual advances.
Donald Trump stared at me throughout that meeting. He stared at me even while George was giving his presentation…In the middle of it he says to George, “Are you sleeping with her?” Meaning me. And George looked a little shocked and he said, “Well, yeah.” And he goes, “Well, for the weekend or what?”
In Harth’s complaint, she says that at a dinner meeting at the Plaza Hotel the following night, Trump groped her under the table repeatedly, violating her “‘physical and mental integrity’ by attempting to touch [her] private parts.” The suit goes on to state that Trump introduced Harth to Plaza Hotel staff as his “new girlfriend” and, after a series of lewd comments about women, blurted out to Houraney, “You know, there’s going to be a problem. I’m very attracted to your girlfriend.”
Following several phone calls during which Harth alleges he tried to get her to come to late night meetings at his house, she says Trump insisted on a business meeting at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Harth told the Guardian that in the midst of a group tour that included Houraney, Trump “forcibly” pulled her away from the group and into his kids’ bedroom, where they were alone.
“He tried to make his move. He pushed me up against the wall and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again. And I had to physically say, ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’ It was a shocking thing to have him do this, because he knew that I was with George. He knew they were in the next room.”
“If it’s not consensual and somebody pushes you up against a wall and is all over you? If I hadn’t pushed him away, I’m sure he would’ve just went for it. He was aggressive. And he has a sense of entitlement. And he thinks everybody’s in love with him — every woman. I’ve heard him say things like this.”
Earlier this month, Harth granted a sit-down interview to LawNewz founder Dan Abrams, in which she also alleged that Trump was clear his behavior was predatory.
Harth: I had to push him off of me.
Abrams: So there was no ambiguity that these were unwanted sexual advances?
Harth: Absolutely, on my part. In his brain, he thinks everybody wants him.
Abrams: Right, but putting aside what he thought. In terms of the way you reacted, in terms of what you did, you made it very clear that these were unwanted advances?
Harth: Absolutely. When someone says ‘stop it,’ that’s clear.”
The 1997 complaint, which explicitly refers to the attack as “attempted ‘rape’” and says it “included touching of [Harth’s] private parts,” states that after the assault, Trump implied that Harth should “keep her mouth shut.” (According the papers, “as [Harth] attempted to leave the premises, defendant Trump again became sexually abusive by intimately touching plaintiff’s person” and says she “immediately became nauseated and vomited profusely.”) The suit goes on to detail follow-up calls by Trump with requests for sex, as well as in-person unwanted touching at subsequent business-related events. Harth alleges Trump continued to pressure her to leave Houraney, even as he was divorcing first-wife Ivana and dating would-be second wife Marla Maples.
“Trump did everything in his power to get me to leave him [Houraney],” Harth told the Guardian. “He constantly called me and said, ‘I love you, baby. I’m going to be the best lover you ever had. What are you doing with that loser, you need to be with me, you need to step it up to the big leagues.’ He was constantly working on me during that time and that took a toll on me.”
Houraney, from whom Harth is now divorced, says while he wasn’t present for most of the scenes described in the 1997 complaint save for the initial meeting with Trump, he firmly believes Harth is telling the truth.
“I know they’re all true,” he told the Guardian. “I knew her way too long to think she could make up stuff like that. It wasn’t in her. She wasn’t capable of making up the things she said in that thing.”
Harth dropped her lawsuit a few weeks after it was filed. The Guardian notes that around the same time, Houraney and Trump settled a business dispute for an undisclosed amount. She says she and Trump were on shakily “friendly” terms after that, and that she wanted to move on, which is why she remained quiet for two decades. That changed, Harth says, after the launch of Trump’s presidential campaign when press outlets dug up the old complaint and Trump responded by calling her a liar. She also says she has voicemails documenting calls from Trump’s office asking her to recant her allegations following the New York Times article.
But Harth says “the topper” that motivated her to speak publicly was when Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, stated on CBS This Morning in March that her father was “not a groper.” Harth says taken together, Trump and Ivanka’s discrediting remarks have negatively impacted her life and her business.
“He didn’t have to say anything. For once, he should have closed his mouth. He didn’t have to comment. We were on great—not great, I’ll take that back—we were on good terms, friendly terms. He didn’t—he started this. What is happening now is of his own making, OK? I was quiet.”
Although there’s been scant coverage of the allegations, Harth is the third woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault. In June, a lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court accusing Trump of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994, the same era as Harth’s attack. That attack allegedly took place during a party held at the home of Trump’s admitted billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2008 served 13 months in jail for soliciting underage girls for sex. (Epstein remains a registered sex offender.) Death and Taxes quoted directly from the lawsuit at the time it was filed:
In the court filing, “Defendant Trump” allegedly “initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”
In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”
Another anonymous woman, identified as “Tiffany Doe,” corroborates those charges, and says she witnessed the rape. As AlterNet previously noted, “Tiffany Doe testified that between 1991 and 2001, Epstein put her on his payroll, tasking her with bringing underage girls to parties.”
The earliest charge of rape against Trump come from his first wife, Ivana Trump. The allegations were made during a deposition taken during the contentious divorce between the two. The book, written by reporter Harry Hurt III and revisited in a Daily Beast article last year, includes a graphic description of a “violent assault” on Ivana by Trump. Before the book was released, Ivana recanted her accusations in a statement provided by Trump’s own lawyers:
“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me. [O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
While coverage of the various rape and attempted rape allegations against Trump haven’t gained much traction with the media, they seem to have grabbed he attention of the billionaire himself. Earlier this month, Jill Harth granted a sit-down interview to LawNewz founder Dan Abrams. In a subsequent piece examining the media’s virtual silence on the allegations, Mediaite (another Abrams property) noted that Trump seems to have gone to great pains to refute Harth and call her sanity into question:
The only one who seems to be taking the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump seriously is Donald Trump…The media blackout would be odd enough on its own, but odder still was that eight minutes after sister site LawNewz.com posted Dan Abrams’ interview with Jill Harth, Donald Trump himself got on the phone with LawNewz editors to dispel the story. In the middle of the pandemonium that was the RNC, Trump found his way to a phone, spoke with LawNewz editors, and characterized Jill Harth as a crazy, lovesick liar who had already been discredited by none other than the National Enquirer. “If you look in the National Enquirer, there was a story in there that she was in love with me. The woman has real problems,” Trump told LawNewz.com in a phone call. “It’s ridiculous, I’ve never touched this woman.”
Harth has said she wants an apology from Trump, though she seriously doubts she’ll receive one from a man who, by all appearances, has never felt contrition in his life. “I’m not going to get an apology from him,” Harth told the Guardian. “That would be nice, but he—I don’t fully expect one. But he really should have been taught, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything, OK? Don’t call me a liar.”
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking