Everything You Need to Know About the Sexual Assault Allegations Against Donald Trump Before Election Day
Here's everything you need to know about the claims against Trump, as well as his responses to each instance of alleged misconduct
Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing — but now, with Nov. 8 just seven days away, the accusations made against him by 12 women will likely weigh heavily on some voters’ minds as they prepare to cast their ballots.
Here’s everything you need to know about the claims against Trump, as well as his responses to each instance of alleged misconduct.
Early 1980s: Jessica Leeds
Leeds, then 38, claimed that she was seated next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York City, and that the encounter was their first meeting. Forty-five minutes into the flight, Leeds said, Trump allegedly moved the armrest separating their seats and began to touch her — grabbing her breasts and attempting to put his hand up her skirt.
Of the encounter, Leeds told the Times, “He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere. It was an assault.”
To avoid the businessman, she retreated to the back of the plane, Leeds claimed. She didn’t report the incident to airline staff and only recently told friends. Leeds said she encountered Trump once again, at a New York charity event just two years after their alleged plane interaction. She claimed that he remembered her, and insulted her with a “crude remark.”
In an interview with CNN‘s Anderson Cooper, Leeds explained that she decided to tell her story when Trump announced his candidacy for president last year. “I didn’t start telling my story until a year-and-a-half ago when it became apparent he was making a serious run for the presidency,” she said in the sit-down that aired Wednesday. “Over the year and the half that I’ve been telling it, it doesn’t change it at all. It still infuriates me when I think about it. But it was a long time ago.”
In response, Trump told the Times this week, “None of this ever took place.” He allegedly shouted at the reporter, and charged that the Times was making up allegations, telling the journalist, “You are a disgusting human being.”
Trump later tweeted on Thursday morning, “The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on women. WATCH!”
Later, an alleged witness came forward to refute Leeds’ account of the incident. Anthony Gilberthorpe told the New York Post that he sat across from Trump and Leeds on the flight, and that he saw no inappropriate interactions between the duo.
Early 1990s: Kristin Anderson
Kristin Anderson, 46, told The Washington Post on Friday that Trump allegedly stuck his hand up her skirt, uninvited, while at a Manhattan night club during the early 1990s.
Anderson claimed that she was sitting with friends on a red velvet couch at the venue when she felt Trump’s fingers graze her inner thigh and touch her vagina through her underwear. She claimed that she immediately pushed the hand away and left the couch before turning back to allegedly see Trump.
“It wasn’t a sexual come-on,” Anderson alleged. “I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it, and nothing would happen. There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.”
Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Post in response: “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous.”
Early 1990s: Barbara Corcoran
Shark Tank star and real estate guru Barbara Corcoran charged this week that Trump made inappropriate comments about her body during a business meeting sometime in the early 1990s – when she was pregnant with her first child, and the nominee’s then-wife Marla Maples was expecting daughter Tiffany, who was born in 1993.
“He compared my breast size to his wife by putting his hands in the air. I was in a business meeting! I was shocked,” Corcoran told CNN. “I just think it’s preposterous that he’s claiming he has done nothing like that. I mean, he has been that way. Always.”
Corcoran, now 67, said she feels the incident was tame compared to the assault allegations against Trump, but that her experience made her “very much” believe all the claims.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Late 1990s: Cathy Heller
Cathy Heller claimed that in the late 1990s, she was attending a brunch at Mar-a-Lago with her in-laws and children when her mother-in-law, a club member, introduced her to the businessman.
Instead of a handshake, though, Heller told PEOPLE that Trump pulled her toward him to deliver a kiss on the mouth. When she pulled away, Trump allegedly got “angry” and said, “Oh, come on.”
“He really grabbed me and he was holding me very tight to kiss me on the mouth,” she charged, noting, “I was able to turn my head a little, so he didn’t get my whole mouth.”
Multiple members of Heller’s family backed up her story, which she said happened in public view.
“There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement to PEOPLE in response to Heller’s account. “It would have been the talk of Palm Beach for the past two decades.”
1997: Mariah Billado
Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA, told Buzzfeed this week that Trump allegedly walked into a dressing room during the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant — which he then owned — while the competitors as young as 15 were changing.
She alleged that Trump told the young women of his presence, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”
The account was corroborated by three other pageant contestants, all of whom wished to remain anonymous. Buzzfeed contacted 11 other women who were in the 1997 pageant, all of whom told the outlet they had no recollection of Trump entering the dressing room.
After the story’s publication, a fifth contestant, former Miss New Mexico Teen USA Victoria Hughes, told Buzzfeed she remembered the alleged encounter with Trump. She said, “It was certainly the most inappropriate time to meet us all for the first time.”
Hughes said in an email, “We actually never once saw him during the two-week [rehearsal] period until he came into the dressing room prior to the show. I was the eldest delegate at age 19 and was in the very back of the large dressing room. I recall chaperones saying that we had a visitor and to get covered up. The black curtains opened and in walks Mr. Trump smiling. He wished us all good luck, did not stay very long and left. As teenagers, it no doubt caught us off guard, as the timing of the entrance could’ve been better and less awkward for us all.”
In a 2005 interview with Howard Stern, Trump, himself, alluded to such behavior, explaining that he often knowingly entered pageant dressing rooms.
“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”
Trump has not directly responded to Billado’s, Hughes’ and the other women’s accusations.
1997: Jill Harth
In a 1997 lawsuit against Trump, Jill Harth accused the candidate of “attempted ‘rape,’ ” according to an interview she did with The Guardian in July.
Harth, a makeup artist, first met Trump in 1992, when she and her then-boyfriend, George Houraney, made a business presentation to Trump in hopes he would back their American Dream festival, an offshoot of Harth’s pin-up competition called American Dream Calendar Girls.
She alleged that almost immediately, Trump began to make sexual advances toward her. Questions about her relationship status eventually evolved to him allegedly groping Harth under the table at a dinner at the Plaza Hotel, she charged.
In Jan. 1992, Harth said that that she and Houraney were visiting Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to celebrate the deal they’d struck in regard to the festival. During a tour of the mansion, Harth claimed that Trump pulled her aside into one of his children’s bedrooms.
She told the Guardian, “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 I was with George, he knew they were in the next room. And how could he be doing this when I’m there for business?”
Houraney and Harth alleged in court documents from a separate business suit that Trump later broke his agreement to aide the American Dream festival, and cheated them out of a $250,000 fee, according to the Boston Globe. The case was eventually settled out of court, but soon after Harth dropped her own lawsuit over the alleged sexual advances and assault.
When Trump announced he was running for the Presidency, Harth said she initially planned to support Trump, and even emailed his campaign as such. After Trump called into question reports of her lawsuit and case, however, Harth told the Guardian she reversed course.
In response to the Guardian interview, Michael Cohen, executive vice-president and special counsel to Trump, said in a statement, “Mr. Trump denies each and every statement made by Ms Harth as these 24-year-old allegations lack any merit or veracity. Hope [Hicks] will forward to you under separate e-mail, a series of e-mails documenting Ms. Harth’s support of Mr Trump, the race for the White House as well as seeking a job opportunity with the campaign.”
He further said that Harth had “massive credibility issues.”
1998: Karena Virginia
Karena Virginia alleged in a New York City press conference that Trump touched her breast while she waited for a car at the U.S. Open in 1998.
Virginia, now a yoga instructor and lifestyle expert, said she was standing alone at the Queens-based tennis tournament when Trump began to speak about her to other men he was with.
“He said, ‘Hey, look at this one. We haven’t seen this one before. Look at those legs,’ as if I was an object other than a person,” Virginia detailed, noting that Trump then approached her and “his hand touched the right side of my breast.”
Virginia claimed that Trump then asked her, “Don’t you know who I am?”
She further wrote in an earlier Facebook entry that she has spent time with Trump and Melania, claiming that the former has “hit on” her in front of his wife.
A Trump spokeswoman said in a statement that Virginia’s accusations were the latest in a string of “fictional stories.”
1997: Temple Taggart
Miss Utah USA 1997 Temple Taggart told the Times in May that when she was 21, Trump allegedly kissed her “directly on the lips” the first time they met.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross,’ ” she said. “He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’ ”
She claimed that after the show, Trump approached her at a gala celebration and invited her to Trump Tower in New York City to meet about her future. He allegedly kissed her on the lips without permission again, and advised her to lie about her age, telling Taggart, “21 is too old.”
In response to the piece, which documented multiple supposed incidents of inappropriate behavior toward women by Trump, the nominee said in May that he wouldn’t kiss a stranger on the lips.
On Twitter, he charged, “The failing @nytimes wrote yet another hit piece on me. All are impressed with how nicely I have treated women, they found nothing. A joke.”
Trump added, “Everyone is laughing at the @nytimes for the lame hit piece they did on me and women.I gave them many names of women I helped-refused to use.”
Taggart re-shared her allegations again this week with NBC, explaining that the encounter was “super uncomfortable.”
Trump reportedly told NBC of Taggart, “I don’t even know who she is. She claims this took place in a public area. I never kissed her. I emphatically deny this ridiculous claim.”
January 2003: Mindy McGillivray
Mindy McGillivray told the Palm Beach Post Wednesday that she was groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago 13 years prior, when she was 23.
McGillivray was working as an assistant to photographer Ken Davidoff on Jan. 24, 2003, during his assignment to cover a concert by Ray Charles. McGillivray was specifically in charge of keeping numbered name plates for those photographed by Ken and his father Bob Davidoff, the former told the Post.
After the performance, Ken and McGillivray were standing in a pavilion with Regis Philbin and his wife, Joy, as well as Trump and his then-fiancée (now wife) Melania, as Charles made his goodbyes.
It was then, McGillivray alleged to the Post, that she felt “a grab, a little nudge.”
“I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct,” she said. “I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned.”
McGillivray, now 36, said that she opted not to make a scene, and said nothing to anyone other than Ken, at the time. She also assured the Post that the encounter was definitely not an accidental bump or nudge.
“It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped,” she charged.
Trump has not yet responded to McGillivray’s accusation.
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2005: Rachel Crooks
In the same Times piece that documented Leeds’ story, Rachel Crooks claimed that in 2005 Trump approached her and kissed her on the cheeks, and then, directly on the mouth.
Crooks said she was working as a receptionist for a real estate investment and development company with offices in the Manhattan Trump Tower at the time. One day, she met Trump outside on elevator in the building, Crooks told the newspaper.
She claimed that after introducing herself to the businessman and they shook hands — but he would not let go.
“He kissed me directly on the mouth,” Crooks told the Times, calling the greeting “inappropriate.” She never reported the alleged encounter.
Lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz has sent a letter to the Times calling the article “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel.”
Although it is not a lawsuit, Kasowitz wrote that a failure to retract the story and apologize “will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies.”
In another, separate statement about the story, Jason Miller, a Trump spokesperson said, “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.”
December 2005: Natasha Stoynoff
During a 2005 trip to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and wife Melania — who were celebrating their first wedding anniversary — PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff alleged that the mogul assaulted her.
Amid a break in the interview and photo shoot — during which then-pregnant Melania retreated to change outfits — Stoynoff said that Trump offered to give her a tour of the mansion. At the time, she had been covering the businessman for several years, and even attended the couple’s wedding.
After entering a room, alone, Stoynoff alleged that, she “turned around, and within seconds [Trump] was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
The incident was interrupted when Trump’s butler burst into the room to announce that Melania was returning. She alleged that Trump took the opportunity before Melania’s re-entrance to tell her, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
“Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you,” he allegedly added.
Stoynoff reported the incident to her editor, and was taken off the Trump beat. She didn’t formally report Trump’s supposed actions, and the feature story about the now-70-year-old and his wife still ran in PEOPLE.
A spokeswoman for Trump told PEOPLE of Stoynoff’s account, “This never happened. There is no merit or veracity to this fabricated story.”
After the story’s publication, Trump tweeted, “Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the ‘incident’ in her story. Because it did not happen!”
Later, Melania disputed the story and demanded an apology.
PEOPLE stands by its decision to publish the account, which Editor in Chief Jess Cagle called “clear and credible.” Further, six people who corroborate the claims have publicly come forward.
2006: Jessica Drake
Adult film star Jessica Drake accused Trump of sexual misconduct during a press conference with her lawyer Gloria Allred in late October.
Drake claimed that Trump had tightly hugged and kissed her without her permission at a Tahoe, California, golf tournament in 2006.
Trump allegedly invited her to his hotel suite, and then – after she declined – tried to offer her $10,000 as well as use of his jet to spend the night with him.
“He asked me to return to his suite and have dinner with him. And he invited me to a party. I declined,” Drake said. “Then Donald asked me, ‘What do you want? How much?’ I told him I couldn’t, because I had to return to L.A. for work. I said that as an excuse because I didn’t want him to continue asking me and I didn’t want to be with him.”
She continued, “After that I received another call, from Donald or a man calling on his behalf, offering me $10,000. I declined again, and made as an excuse I had to return to Los Angeles for work. I was then told Mr. Trump would allow me to use his private jet if I accepted his invitation.”
In response to Drake’s accusations, the Trump campaign said in a statement, “This story is totally false and ridiculous.”
“Mr. Trump does not know this person, does not remember this person and would have no interest in ever knowing her. This is just another attempt by the Clinton campaign to defame a candidate who just today is number one in three different polls. Anyone who would pay thugs to incite violence at a rally against American citizens, as was released on video, will stop at nothing. Just another example of the Clinton campaign trying to rig the election.”
2006: Ninni Laaksonen
Marking the 12th-such accusation against Trump, a former Miss Finland, Ninni Laaksonen, told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that the businessman groped her before both appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2006, according to a translation of the interview in the U.K.’s The Telegraph.
“Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt,” claimed Laaksonen, who is now 30. “He really grabbed my butt. I don’t think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought, ‘What is happening?’ ”
Trump has not directly addressed Laaksonen’s claim, but has continually vehemently denied all similar accusations.
2007: Summer Zervos
Season 5 The Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, also represented by attorney Allred, charged last month that Trump assaulted her at a Los Angeles hotel in 2007.
Zervos said that she reached out to Trump after being “fired” from the popular reality show, and asked him to grab lunch while she was visiting New York City. Instead, Trump invited Zervos to her office, where he greeted her with a kiss on the lips, she alleged.
The incident, she said, was just the beginning. Trump later phoned Zervos at her California home, and asked her to visit the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he was staying, for a business meeting.
After arriving at Trump’s hotel room, Zervos alleged that Trump began kissing her “very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.”
Despite pushing back, Trump tried to pull her into the room’s sleeping area, and put her “in an embrace.”
“I pushed his chest to put space between us and I said ‘Come on man, get real.’ He repeated my words back to me, ‘Get real’ as he began thrusting his genitals. He tried to kiss me again and with my hand still on his chest I said ‘Dude, you’re trippin’ right now,’ attempting to make it clear that I was not interested.”
After the incident, Zervos said they ate dinner together and – despite one visit to a Trump golf course and unfulfilled offers of employment – she never saw the mogul again.
Trump responded to Zervos’ story in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years,” he said. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
2013: Cassandra Searles
Miss Washington 2013, Cassandra Searles wrote in a June Facebook post, which was screen grabbed by Yahoo, that Trump treated the pageant contestants like “cattle.”
“Do y’all remember that one time we had to do our onstage introductions, but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes? Do you also remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property?” she wrote. “Oh I forgot to mention that guy will be in the running to become the next President of the United States.”
Searles further alleged in the post’s comment section, “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”
Trump has not responded to Searles’ social media remarks and she has not further explained the alleged groping.