A former contestant on President-elect Donald Trump’s TV show who claims he made unwanted sexual advances on her filed a defamation suit against him Tuesday for publicly denying her claims.
“The Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos appeared alongside her attorney Gloria Allred in Los Angeles to announce the suit. In a brief statement, Zervos said she demanded in mid-November that Trump retract his public statements that she and more than a dozen other female accusers were fabricating allegations that he groped or kissed them.
“Since Mr. Trump has not issued a retraction as I requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative other than to sue him to vindicate my reputation,” Zervos said.
Allred said the case was filed in a New York court Tuesday morning.
Trump lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Trump issued a statement last October that appeared to deny her claims that he repeatedly kissed her on the mouth, grabbed her breast and thrust his genitals at her when she was a contestant on “The Apprentice” in 2006.
“I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years,” Trump had said in a statement on his campaign website. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
Last year, Trump’s campaign released a statement from Zervos’ cousin saying she had spoken about Trump in glowing terms after her time on the TV show.
However, Allred has said three witnesses — including Zervos’ father — confirm she complained about Trump’s advances at the time. In addition, the longtime women’s rights attorney said Tuesday that her client had passed a lie detector test regarding her allegations. She also saluted her client’s courage in deciding to proceed with a suit against the incoming president of the United States.
“It takes a great deal of courage to sue the most powerful man on the planet,” Allred said during a 40-minute appearance before reporters at her Los Angeles law office. “Women are not a footnote to history….We value women who allege they have been the victims of injustice.”
Regardless of who’s telling the truth in the dispute, the court fight could result in Trump facing something he managed to elude during the presidential campaign: the publication of outtakes of Trump from his 14 seasons on” The Apprentice.” Those recordings remained under wraps during the presidential campaign but led to widespread speculation that they could contain insensitive or lewd remarks from Trump. One such recording in which Trump boasted of grabbing women by their genitals roiled the final weeks of the campaign, but came from the archives of “Access Hollywood.”
“We would certainly seek any and all information and documents, recordings etc., which may be relevant to the litigation of our lawsuit,” Allred said when asked about seeking the outtakes. “So, we’ll have to see what the reaction of Mr. Trump’s attorney will be to that…..and we’ll see what NBC decides if, as of when, they are served with a subpoena.”
Asked why the suit was being filed three days before Trump’s inauguration, Allred was vague, but said her client chose to wait to see if Trump would retract his denials.
“The question is: why now? My answer would be: why not now?” Allred said. “There’s no good time. There’s no bad time. But we have waited two months and time is up.”
Allred said she, Zervos and other Trump accusers plan to attend the women’s march on Washington taking place Saturday as a protest against Mr. Trump’s inauguration.