By Char Adams
October 19, 2016 04:31 PM

This is the inside story of why PEOPLE published Natasha Stoynoff ‘s account of being physically attacked by Donald Trump while on assignment for the magazine.

The former PEOPLE reporter’s harrowing account made national news when it broke last week. In the story, reprinted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Stoynoff described a run-in with Trump when she was covering him and then-pregnant Melania in December 2005. She says he pushed her against a wall and forcibly kissed her.

Trump has denied the accusations, saying there is “no merit or veracity” to Stoynoff’s account and also publicly attacked her at a rally in Florida.

Melanie Acevedo

Trump’s wife, Melania, has also disputed Stoynoff’s story and demanded an apology, appearing on CNN to defend her husband.

However, PEOPLE stands by its decision to publish Stoynoff’s story. PEOPLE Editor in Chief Jess Cagle calls her account “clear and credible.”

“We are grateful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story,” he says. “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.”

Six people who corroborate Stoynoff’s claims have come forward publicly – including one who contradicts Melania Trump’s claim that she never met Stoynoff on the streets of New York after the assault.

Stoynoff joined a growing chorus of women accusing Trump of attacking them through the years.

She breaks her silence in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, saying, “Women are talking about this, and they need to. We cannot be silent anymore. I didn’t tell my story for politics, I told it for women.”

The assault claims came on the heels of the infamous 2005 hot-mic video in which Trump is heard making demeaning comments about women to Billy Bush, who co-hosted Access Hollywood at the time.

On the tape — first published by The Washington Post — Trump is heard bragging that he could grab women “by the p——” because he’s a “star.” He also revealed that he had unsuccessfully tried to have sex with a married woman — later identified as Nancy O’Dell.

Trump dismissed his comments as “locker room talk” and released a video-taped apology. At the second presidential debate, he denied that he has ever made any unwanted sexual advances toward women.