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19 Oct

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World Politics

United States

A new book uncovers fresh allegations of the president’s inappropriate sexual behaviour

Donald Trump attends The Miss Universe Guide to Beauty book launch at Trump Tower, New York, in 2006.

Donald Trump attends The Miss Universe Guide to Beauty book launch at Trump Tower, New York, in 2006. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

We all know the story by now. In 2005, Donald Trump was caught on tape bragging that his fame allowed him to sexually assault women. In 2016, as he was running for president, that recording, the so-called Access Hollywood tape, was made public, resulting in a stream of women coming forward and alleging that Trump had groped or otherwise sexually assaulted them. He was elected anyway; the women’s stories didn’t seem to matter. But they should.

If we have understood one thing in the two years since actor Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo, sending the then 11-year-old phrase viral, it is that when women are not listened to, men in positions of power are left free to abuse their authority. When the accused abuser is the president of the United States, those allegations and how they are handled matter all the more. Thanks to his bully pulpit, Trump’s words and actions resonate far beyond the deeds themselves.

And then there is the question of collective responsibility. If we avert our eyes from the allegations of Trump’s abuse because we find it distasteful, we tacitly endorse his behaviour. When we dismiss or ignore his objectification and denigration of women, we legitimise it. Leaving these attitudes and actions unchecked allows them to proliferate.

When the recording was released, Trump brushed it off as “locker-room banter”. A short time later he denied having had affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. We, however, conducted more than 100 interviews in the course of researching our book All the President’s Women and found that the language and the affairs were not mere aberrations. Since his campaign, Trump has already faced allegations from nearly two dozen women. Our book reveals another 43 allegations, bringing the total to 67 accusations of inappropriate behaviour, including 26 instances of unwanted sexual contact. In short, far from being occasional or accidental, his alleged misconduct with women was regular and widespread. We found that Trump repeatedly and systematically engaged in aggressive sexual pursuit of women over many decades and that his alleged behaviour followed discernible patterns. One of those was a predilection for young models.

All of a sudden she heard someone shout: ‘Put your robes on, here he comes!’

In the early 1980s, NaKina Carr was working in New York for Oscar de la Renta and was backstage in the models’ dressing room at one of his fashion shows when she heard Trump’s name mentioned for the first time. She was getting ready when all of a sudden she heard someone shout: “Put your robes on, here he comes!”

At 21, the Texas native was already on the older side for a catwalk model, who generally start working when they are in their teens, but she was new to New York and had no idea what was going on. “I didn’t know what they were talking about … but suddenly everyone threw on their dressing robes,” Carr said, speaking publicly about her memories of Trump for the first time. Carr asked another woman what was wrong, and she pointed to a man across the room. “She said: ‘He’s the money man. He can do whatever he wants … Unless you’re a gold digger, you avoid him at all costs.’”

Trump walked in as if he owned the place, according to Carr’s account, with a pregnant Ivana, his first wife, trailing behind him. “He threw his arms wide open and said: ‘OK now ladies, drop ’em,’” Carr said. “The one thing I’ll always remember is the dejected look on Ivana’s face in the dressing room. I thought how horrible, that he would treat her in this way.”

As Trump strode around the dressing room, Carr concealed herself behind a pillar, incredulous that someone would be so crude. “The other girls were obviously afraid of him, like they knew he meant it and it wasn’t a joke,” she said. The model was later assured that she was not Trump’s type – at the time the rumours among modelling insiders was that he preferred younger women. “If you’re over 21 you don’t have to worry,” Carr said she was told.

Those rumours appear to be backed up by other accounts of Trump during that era. Model Barbara Pilling was not yet 18 when her booker took her to a party a few days after her arrival in New York, in the summer of 1989. Trump was also in attendance. Pilling didn’t know who the real estate developer was, but she noticed him looking at her. “I could see him eyeing me up and watching me,” she said. She claims that once he caught her gaze, Trump started talking to her. “I remember him saying: ‘Oh, how old are you?’ And I said 17, and he said: ‘That’s just great; you’re not too old, not too young.’”

Pilling said Trump tried to make small talk with her for a while, but his gaze kept veering to her chest. He asked her if she liked where she was living and said he knew great places she could stay if she didn’t. Trump offered to show her the city and to take her to dinner. He told her she was gorgeous, like a dark-haired Marilyn Monroe, and asked her if she would ever consider going blond. “I was starting to feel uncomfortable,” Pilling remembered. “It’s not a nice feeling for a young girl to have an older man making advances on her.” Another model standing nearby whispered to Pilling that Trump clearly liked her, and explained who he was. “I wasn’t impressed by it. I mean, I was only 17.”

From left: Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey speak at news conference in New York, 2017.

From left: Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Samantha Holvey speak at news conference in New York, 2017. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Pilling eventually excused herself to go to the restroom, where yet another woman was talking about the developer. “She said he grabbed her ass and kept going for her and was all hands,” Pilling said. Between that and her own conversation with him, Pilling was so disturbed that she left the party without saying goodbye to anyone.

When the Australian Shayna Love was living in New York in 1991, she says models were encouraged to attend dinners that became occasions for “men to pick up girls”. “You’d go to these things and look pretty, give the men attention,” Love said. She was 16 at the time and part of the Elite model agency’s “New Faces” campaign. “We might as well have been called ‘fresh meat’.” Love recalled a dinner with Trump. “This time it was a private area, a big table and lots of girls – I’d say around 10 to 15 of us, all between the ages of 14 and 18,” she said. “It was just us models, Trump and [Elite founder] John [Casablancas]. We were all underage, but we were offered drinks.” Love said she went home early, but other girls stayed.

Trump was often seen with Casablancas. He hosted events for Elite’s modelling contests at his New York properties and provided lodging for the contestants. Eli Nessa had just turned 17 and was representing Norway during one such Elite competition hosted by Trump’s hotel in the early 90s. In addition to the events for the competition, the women were expected to attend several nights of parties. “There were all these older men,” she said. “It was so seedy.” Nessa was accompanied by her agent, but other women appeared to be alone. “I remember this Italian girl, extremely naive, who couldn’t speak any English. She was easy prey. They were all around her,” Nessa said. “We were a bunch of kids, just put there with all these older men.”

Heather Braden was also an Elite model and, in the late 90s, alleges that she was instructed to go to a party in a mansion on one of the islands off Miami Beach. Trump was going to be there, she was told. Braden went with a couple of friends who were also models. When they arrived, the first thing they saw was a table manned by two security guards. The models were handed papers. “I presume they were NDAs for us to sign,” Braden recalled. They ignored the papers and walked into a big room where there were about 50 models. In her mid-20s, Braden was one of the oldest women there. Many were from eastern Europe and didn’t speak English, so Braden and her friends kept to themselves.

They found the party odd. There was no DJ, no food, and no bartender – though there were drinks, Braden remembers. “It was very awkward from the beginning,” she said years later. “Fifty females in this room, no real hosts. Very unusual. And then down this large staircase, in front of all of us, there was Donald Trump and behind him there were three actors, 40s, maybe 50s. I don’t want to name them because they’re all still around.” The actors were famous. “They came down the stairs and spread out like sharks among the girls,” who had broken up into little clusters throughout the room. “Obviously, some of these younger girls were starstruck.”……………………..

‘Clearly, we were there for one reason … We were just pieces of meat’

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