A 10th woman has come forward to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.
Cathy Heller told the Guardian that during her first and only meeting with Donald Trump approximately 20 years ago, the businessman grabbed her and attempted a kiss, from which she recoiled. Visibly irritated, Heller claims, Trump snapped, “Oh, come on,” held her still, and forcibly kissed her on the lips.
“He kept me there for a little too long,” Heller, now 63, said of the incident, which she claims took place during a Mother’s Day brunch at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. “And then he just walked away.”
Heller’s story is an increasingly familiar one. Not only does it echo those of several other women who’ve accused the Republican presidential nominee of unwanted groping, kissing and other sexual advances, like the others, her account also seems to corroborate Trump’s own description of how he treats women, as recently revealed by a recording from 2005.
And like many of the women who’ve come forward in recent days, Heller says she was motivated to share her story after Sunday’s presidential debate, during which Trump publicly denied having engaged in the behavior he described in the 2005 video.
Trump and members of his campaign team have vehemently denied the accusations that surfaced in the wake of the latest debate, suggesting that based on the timing, the women who’ve come forward this week must be part of a conspiracy aimed at derailing Trump’s presidential campaign involving Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and the mainstream news media.
Heller’s claims come in the wake of a Friday afternoon press conference in which former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, with the help of famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, alleged that she, too, had been forcibly groped and kissed by Trump years ago.
Late Friday, the Trump campaign attempted to discredit Zervos by releasing a statement from one of her cousins, who said he was “shocked and bewildered” by the story, suggesting that Zervos simply “wishes she could still be on reality TV” and her account is “nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense.”
A little over an hour after Heller’s story was published on the Guardian’s website, Trump reiterated his blanket denial of the actions he’s been accused of by 10 women and counting.
Nothing ever happened with any of these women. Totally made up nonsense to steal the election. Nobody has more respect for women than me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2016
Later Saturday afternoon, the Trump campaign issued an official response to the Guardian story, arguing that, “There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort. It would have been the talk of Palm Beach for the past two decades.”
The Guardian spoke to several friends and relatives of Heller’s who corroborated the story that they say she’s been sharing with those close to her for more than a year. In fact, according to the story published Saturday, Heller first told a Guardian reporter about her encounter with Trump back in February but at the time chose not to speak on the record.
“He said this is just talk, but it’s not just talk,” Heller said, explaining why she’s chosen to speak up now. “This was him.”