A former contestant on the reality show “The Apprentice” on Friday accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of aggressively kissing her and groping her breasts during a 2007 meeting to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization.
Summer Zervos, who appeared on the show in 2006 and now owns a California restaurant, spoke about the incident at a news conference alongside civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred.
At times tearing up, Zervos said the incident occurred at Trump’s bungalow hotel suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which she visited after he suggested the two have dinner.
Zervos said Trump greeted her with an “open-mouthed kiss” and then urged her to sit close to him on a love seat before kissing her again, groping her and trying to pull her into his bedroom. Zervos said she pushed Trump away and told him, “Come on, man, get real.”
She said Trump responded by mimicking her words, “Get real,” and “thrusting his genitals” in her direction.
Zervos’s accusations came as a number of other women have stepped forward in recent days to accuse Trump of groping them or kissing them inappropriately. Also Friday, The Washington Post published the account of Kristin Anderson, 46, who said Trump reached up her skirt and groped her during an encounter at a nightclub in the early 1990s.
In a statement, Trump said he “vaguely” remembered Zervos as an “Apprentice” contestant but that he “never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago.”
“That is not what I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life,” he said, adding that Zervos had emailed him in April asking that he visit her restaurant in California. Trump blasted the media, saying reporters are “throwing due diligence and fact-finding to the side in a rush to file their stories first,” a sign, he said that “we truly are living in a broken system.”
Trump has categorically denied other accusations. At a rally in North Carolina, he called the women’s accounts “total fiction.” He called Jessica Leeds, who told the New York Times that Trump had groped her on an airplane in the 1980s, “that horrible woman” and suggested Leeds was not attractive enough to have drawn his interest. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” he said.
Zervos, like the other women who have lodged allegations in recent days, said she was compelled to speak after watching a video of Trump bragging to “Access Hollywood” in 2005 that he was able to sexually assault women because he is a celebrity.
Allred said Zervos is one of “many” women who have approached her in recent days to describe experiences with Trump. Allred said several friends and family members of Zervos could corroborate that she had told them of her experiences with Trump shortly after they allegedly occurred, but Allred did not release those statements Friday.
Zervos read aloud from the email she said that she sent Trump in April 2016, which she said was an attempt to see whether the increasingly high-profile presidential candidate would consider apologizing for his behavior. She said she wrote to Trump, through an assistant, that his behavior toward her “blew my mind.”
“I have been incredibly hurt by our previous interaction,” she said she wrote. She said she received no response.
Unlike several other of Trump’s accusers, who either barely knew the business executive or did not know him at all, Zervos said she had considered Trump a mentor and role model, even after she was fired from the boardroom game show.
She said she reached out to him a year after her “Apprentice” appearance when she was traveling to New York and asked to meet to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization.
In his Trump Tower office, she said Trump was complimentary and sounded eager to hire her. Then, she said, she became uncomfortable when, as she was leaving, he kissed her on the mouth.
Zervos said she shared the experience at the time with a friend and her parents, who urged her to view the kiss as a form of greeting. Not long after, she said Trump called her to say he was visiting California and suggested the two have dinner to discuss the job.
Zervos said Trump became physical soon after she arrived at his suite in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“He put me in an embrace, and I tried to push him away,” she said.
After she rejected his advances, Zervos said, Trump grew cold. She said they proceeded with their planned dinner and that Trump ordered a club sandwich for the two to share.
As they waited for dinner to arrive, Zervos recalled that Trump told her that “he did not think I had ever known love or had ever been in love.” Over dinner, he offered financial advice, suggesting that she should stop paying the mortgage on her home, leave the keys on a table and demand the bank make her a better deal, she said.
Trump soon said he was tired and urged her to leave, Zervos said. He did not cut off discussions of a possible job. Instead he suggested they meet the next day at his Rancho Palos Verdes golf course, where she was given a tour by the general manager. Ultimately, she said she was offered a job that paid half of what she had discussed with Trump.
Allred said Zervos has no plans to file a lawsuit and has no affiliation with any political campaign.
“I want to be able to sleep at night when I’m 70,” Zervos said to explain her decision to come forward.