Washington: Joining the increasing list of women accusing Donald Trump of inappropriate behaviour, a former contestant of the reality TV show “The Apprentice” has alleged that the Republican presidential candidate made unwanted sexual advances and groped her in 2007.
At a news conference in Los Angeles, Summer Zervos alleged that the incident took place after she was eliminated from “The Apprentice” show Season 5 and approached Trump for work at one of his golf courses.
“In 2007 I was going to New York for a social obligation. I contacted Trump’s office to see if he was available for lunch. I was informed that he could not have lunch, but that he would like to meet me in his office. When I arrived he kissed me on the lips. I was surprised, but felt that perhaps it was just a form of greeting. We sat and spoke. He was extremely complimentary,” she alleged.
Accompanied by her lawyer Gloria Allred, Zervos said during the meeting, she requested for a job, to which Trump agreed.
“He said that he was impressed with how I handled myself on ‘The Apprentice’. He said he was allowed to have me work for him. Trump said he would be coming to Los Angeles soon and he would contact,” she told reporters.
“I felt as though I was reaching for my brass ring. I was very excited. I felt as though my dream of working for Trump might come true. As I was about to leave, he again kissed me on the lips. This made me feel nervous and embarrassed. This is not what I wanted or expected. He asked me for my phone number. I left hurriedly and called a friend who lived in New York because I was upset by the kiss. I also called my parents to let them know what had happened,” she said.
Trump called Zervos when he came to Los Angeles and asked her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel, besides enquiring where she would like to have dinner.
“When I arrived, his security guard greeted me at the hotel. He walked with me to greet Trump. I assumed we were going to a restaurant in the hotel. Instead, I was taken to a bungalow,” she said.
Zervos alleged that it was then that Trump made unwanted sexual advances at her and groped her. However, John Berry, a first cousin of Zervos said that the press conference by her was a publicity stunt as all these years she said nothing but praised Trump.
Trump has denied the allegations, saying, “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years. 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,” Trump said.
The accusation against Trump comes just days after at least five women accused him of sexual assault and harassment, threatening the controversial Republican presidential nominee’s already fragile campaign that was rocked by the surfacing of a video in which he is seen making lewd remarks about women.
“I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr.Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr.Trump’s expense, and I don t think it reflects well,” Berry said in a statement issued through the Trump Campaign.
“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today. Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr.Trump,” he said.
“For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr.Trump and viewed him as an inspiration –- a success story she wanted to copy. Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr.Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press,” Berry said.
She has praised the good things he has done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to becoming Trump supporters even though we have never been active in politics before, Berry said.
“That was until Summer invited Mr.Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no,” Berry said.
The Trump Campaign also released the email written by Zervos early this summer. According to Zervos, during the conversation at the dinner table later after he made advances at her, Trump told her that she should not make payments on mortgage of her home and hired her for the golf course at half the salary she was expecting.
“Even though Trump had sexually harassed me, I still wanted to get a job within the Trump organisation. I felt that since I had made it clear to him that I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with him, that if he gave me a job it would be based solely on merit and we would be able to work together,” she said.
“During Trump’s fight for the Republican nomination, I saw and heard Trump’s non-stop on television and in the news. Customers at my restaurant asked about him as they knew I was a contestant on ‘The Apprentice.’ I always complemented and never said anything about what he had done at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” she said.
Zervos said this, however, caused a “great deal of pain” and anguish for her and she felt the need to “confront” Trump and ask him to apologise for his behaviour.
“I also thought he might have been embarrassed by his behaviour, and that this would provide him with the opportunity to clear the air. I had no idea about his behaviour with other women at the time,” she said.