A former PEOPLE reporter has accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct — claims the Republican candidate for president denied as politically motivated fiction.
In a column published on People.com late Wednesday, author, playwright, and former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff recounts an incident in 2005 when Trump allegedly forced himself on her during an interview at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Stoynoff was assigned to write about Donald and Melania Trump’s first wedding anniversary. When Melania, who was pregnant, stepped away for a wardrobe change, the billionaire led Stoynoff to an empty room in the mansion, she writes.
“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff writes. “Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise, and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.”
Stoynoff writes that she asked to be removed from the Trump beat after the incident, for which she said she felt “ashamed” and tried to dismiss as “one of the hazards of a rollercoaster ride of celebrity journalism.”
A representative for Trump denied the incident in a statement to PEOPLE: “This never happened. There is no merit or veracity to this fictional story. Why wasn’t this reported at the time? Mr. Trump was the biggest star on television and surely this would have been a far bigger scoop for People magazine. She alleges this took place in a public space with people around. This is nothing but politically motivated fictional pile-on.”
Stoynoff’s account is the latest in a series of sexual misconduct allegations leveled at Trump by women who have come forward after a tape released Friday showed the businessman making lewd and graphic comments about women. The New York Times reported Wednesday that two women have accused Trump of touching them inappropriately: One woman said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on an airplane in the 1980s; the other accused him of kissing her without consent outside an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. (Trump is threatening to sue the newspaper over the accusations.) A third woman told the Palm Beach Post that Trump groped her in 2003 at Mar-a-Lago where she was working as a photographer’s assistant.
In the leaked recording of Trump’s conversation with former Access Hollywood personality Billy Bush in 2005, Trump said his fame allowed him to be sexually aggressive with women. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet,” Trump said in the video, which was released by The Washington Post. “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”
Trump was asked during the presidential debate on Sunday whether he had kissed or groped women without consent. The 70-year-old candidate said he had not, and categorized the 2005 comments as “locker room talk.”