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Multiple women say Trump groped them as his campaign crisis deepens

At least four women say he forced himself on them.

us presidential election Updated: Oct 13, 2016 22:34 IST
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kisses a
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kisses a "Women for Trump" placard during a rally at an airport in Lakeland, Florida on October 12, 2016. (AFP)

Donald Trump’s remarks that he had boasted about kissing and groping women but never done those things have triggered a series of accusations of inappropriate behaviour, with at least four women saying he forced himself on them.

Two Miss USA contestants have accused the Republican presidential nominee of walking into a dressing room when they were naked while CBS News reported of a 1992 video that showed Trump, who was then 46, looking at a group of young girls and saying he would be dating one of them in 10 years.

Observers have said the latest allegations could deal another blow to the real estate mogul’s campaign in the aftermath of a 2005 video that featuring him bragging about kissing and groping women. The New York Times’ report that Trump had acted inappropriately with two women infuriated the magnate, who threatened to sue the newspaper.

Jessica Leeds, 74, told The Times that Trump groped her in the first class cabin of a commercial flight in 1980 while Rachel Crooks, 33, said he kissed her on the mouth as they waited for an elevator at the Trump Tower in 2005.

Leeds said she wanted to punch the television screen when she saw Trump insist at the second presidential debate he would never touch or grope a woman without her permission. She said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put a hand up her skirt. “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.” The ordeal ended when she moved to the back of the plane.

READ: Donald Trump has long history of offensive comments about women

Neither woman complained to authorities but they told those close to them about the encounters. They joined a growing list of women who have come forward in recent days to allege being treated inappropriately by Trump.

Former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon, who participated in the Miss USA contest in 2001, told CBS News that Trump, who owned the pageant at the time, walked into the dressing room while the contestants were undressed.

“Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half naked changing into our bikinis,” Dixon said. “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.”

People walk by a nude statue bearing the likeness of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by artist Joshua Monroe in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

Another woman, who did not want to be named, told The Guardian that Trump deliberately walked in on two Miss USA 2001 contestants while they were naked. “Mr Trump just barged right in, didn’t say anything, stood there and stared at us,” she said. Trump’s attitude, she added, seemed to be: “I can do this because I can.”

Mindy McGillivray, 36, a resident of Palm Beach, Florida, too was angered when Trump said on the presidential debate that he had kissed or grabbed women. She told the Palm Beach Post that she was groped by Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate 13 years ago though she never reported the incident to authorities.

READ: Donald Trump, his enabler, the media, is his adversary

Photographer Ken Davidoff, who was with McGillivray on that day, said he vividly remembers when she pulled him aside moments after the alleged incident and told him, “Donald just grabbed my ass!”

In a first-person piece, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff wrote that Trump pushed her against a wall and kissed her when she had gone to the Mar-a-Lago estate to interview the magnate and his then-pregnant wife Melania in December 2005. She managed to extricate herself when a butler walked into the room.

As Stoynoff and Trump waited for Melania to join them, she wrote, the smiled and told her: “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”

CBS News reported that a video had surfaced of an “Entertainment Tonight” Christmas feature in 1992 that featured Trump looking at a group of young girls at Trump Tower and saying he would be dating one of them in 10 years. At the time, Trump was 46 years old.

In the clip, Trump asks one of the girls if she’s “going up the escalator”. When the girl replies, “Yeah,” Trump turns to the camera and says: “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

This is not the first time Trump made a reference to his interest in dating younger women. In 2006, he remarked about his own daughter Ivanka: “I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

The new accusations are likely to make it difficult for Trump to pass off his remarks on the 2005 tape as “locker-room talk”, as he has tried to do since its release last week. The tape sparked countrywide outrage and compelled many Republicans to withdraw their endorsements of Trump and distance themselves from him.

Trump, whose polls numbers have fallen precipitously, has reacted angrily. He yelled at The New York Times reporter who called him for his comments. After denying anything of the kind alleged by Leeds and Crooks happened, he called the reporter a “disgusting human being” and threatened to sue the publication if it carried the story.