LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former contestant on “The Apprentice” who previously accused Donald Trump of making unwelcome sexual advances toward her, kissing her on the lips and groping her in a Beverly Hills hotel filed a defamation lawsuit Tuesday against the president-elect over his denials of her allegations.
Summer Zervos announced the lawsuit at a Los Angeles news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred, who represents multiple women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump. Trump has vehemently denied the allegations, and he specifically rebuffed Zervos’ accusations.
Zervos and Allred said they called on Trump in November in retract statements calling Zervos a “liar” and referring to her allegations as “fiction” and “fabrications.”
“I also called up on him to state that what I said about his behavior toward me was true,” Zervos said. “More than two months have gone by and he has not issued that retraction. I wanted to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to retract his false statements about me and the other women who came forward. Mr. Trump has not issued a retraction as I requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative other than to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation.”
“I want Mr. Trump to know that I will still be willing to dismiss my case against him immediately for no monetary compensation if he would simply retract his false and defamatory statements about me and acknowledge that I told the truth about him,” she added.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement Tuesday: “There is no truth to this absurd story.”
When Zervos first came forward in October, Trump issued a statement saying he “vaguely” remembered Zervos.
“To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago,” he said. “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 (2016) asking that I visit her restaurant in California.
“Beyond that, the media is now creating a theater of absurdity that threatens to tear our democratic process apart and poison the minds of the American public,” he said. “When Gloria Allred is given the same weighting on national television as the president of the United States, and unfounded accusations are treated as fact, with reporters throwing due diligence and fact-finding to the side in a rush to file their stories first, it’s evident that we are truly living in a broken system.”
Zervos acknowledged during the news conference that she emailed Trump in April, saying she “felt the need to confront Mr. Trump and ask him to apologize to me for his behavior. I also thought that he might have been embarrassed by his behavior and that this would provide him with an opportunity to clear the air. I had no idea about his behavior with other women at that time.”
Zervos said in October that after appearing on season five of Trump’s reality show, she arranged to meet with him in 2007 in his New York office in hopes of getting a job at his company.
“When I arrived he kissed me on the lips,” Zervos said. “I was surprised, but felt that perhaps that was just his form of greeting.”
She said Trump was complimentary to her during the meeting and that he would “love to have me work for him,” and told her he would contact her during an upcoming trip to Los Angeles.
“As I was about to leave he again kissed me on the lips,” she said. “This made me feel very nervous and embarrassed. This is not what I wanted or expected.”
She said she returned to Los Angeles, and Trump contacted her and asked her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Trump’s security team met her at the hotel and led her to a bungalow, where she sat in the living room and
waited for about 15 minutes until Trump entered the room.
“I stood up and he came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. I walked away and I sat down on a chair. He was on a love seat across from me and I made an attempt at conversation … He then asked me to sit next to him. I complied. He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively, and placed his hand on my breast. I pulled back and went to another part of the room. He then walked up, grabbed my hand and walked me into the bedroom.
“I walked out. He then turned me around and said, `Let’s lay down and watch some telly telly.’ He put me in an embrace and I tried to push him away. 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 with my hand still on his chest and I said, `Dude you’re tripping right now,’ attempting to make it clear that I was not interested.”
She said Trump appeared to become angry, and as they waited for dinner, “he started saying that he did not think that I had ever known love or had been in love.”
After the dinner and some conversation about a job and Trump offering advice about getting out of her mortgage, he “abruptly said that he was tired and that he needed to go to bed.”
After meeting with him again at Trump’s golf club in Palos Verdes, and having subsequent conversations, the manager of the golf club eventually offered her a job at half the salary she had been seeking. Trump later dodged future conversations with her, she said.
Zervos said she told her parents and a close friend about Trump’s behavior immediately after her meeting with him in New York. But she never came forward publicly with the accusations.
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