Less than a week after the release of a 2005 video of Donald Trump making lewd comments about a soap opera star, two more women are stepping forward with their experiences of Trump touching them inappropriately. 74-year-old Jessica Leeds told the New York Times that she was a traveling businesswoman when she was upgraded to a first class airplane seat next to Trump over 30 years ago.
“These are not memories that you want to go over,” Leeds said in a video for the Times. “It’s somewhat unnerving since [the video release] to be rehashing it so many times.”
According to Leeds, Trump began touching her just 45 minutes after takeoff. “He was like an octopus,” Leeds recalled. “He was all over the place.”
Trump eventually put his hands up her skirt, which was the final straw for Leeds. She returned to her original seat in coach. “I don’t think I said a word,” she said. “During the late ’60s, ’70s, and into the ’80s, culture had instilled in us that somehow [the attention from men] was our fault.”
Another victim, Rachel Crooks, decided to share her story after Trump denied his inappropriate comments at the second presidential debate. Crooks was only 22 when she worked as a receptionist at a company in Trump Tower and introduced herself to Trump outside an elevator in 2005. When they shook hands, Trump kept holding on and began kissing her—first on the cheeks, then on the mouth. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” Crooks said. She was particularly conflicted about how to react to the incident, feeling that, because of Trump’s status, she couldn’t do a thing.
The women’s stories aren’t the only terrible things in this report. The New York Times revealed that Trump denied each claim in a phone interview. He shouted at the reporter, threatened to sue the newspaper if it published the stories, and even called the reporter “a disgusting human being.” Trump’s campaign has demanded that the Times take down their story, but newspaper has no plays to comply.
— Greg Howard (@greghoward88) October 13, 2016
NYT’s legal team responds to Trump. pic.twitter.com/Zvrx2hm93l
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) October 13, 2016
And Crooks and Leeds aren’t alone in sharing their experiences with the media. Politico compiled several reported incidents, including that of Mandy McGillivray, who spoke to the Palm Beach Post about Trump grabbing her behind over a decade ago. A PEOPLE magazine writer detailed how Trump assaulted her during an interview at Mar-a-Lago in 2005. BuzzFeed also reported five former Miss Teen USA contestants recalling that Trump would visit their dressing room when they were changing. However, there has been speculation about the accuracy of these claims.
Regardless whether some of these stories are true or not, the women’s experiences show just how often they are taught to feel guilty if they are victims of sexual assault. We hope that no one’s afraid to tell someone if she has faced a dangerous situation with a partner or even a stranger. If you or a friend would like professional support after experiencing sexual assault, look into contacting the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline.