A People magazine writer on Wednesday published a first-person account alleging that Donald Trump forcibly kissed her at his Mar-A-Lago estate during a 2005 visit to interview him and his wife Melania about their first year of marriage.
Natasha Stoynoff, who for years was assigned to the magazine’s Trump beat, said she felt compelled to come forward after the Republican nominee claimed during Sunday’s debate that he never acted on the behaviors he bragged about in a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape in which he describes forcing himself on women he found attractive.
“I remember it differently,” Stoynoff writes, recalling a tour Trump took her on during a December 2005 visit to his Palm Beach residence for a People feature story. According to Stoynoff, after a “then-very-pregnant” Melania Trump went upstairs to change outfits for a photo shoot, Donald Trump accompanied her into a room, pushed her against the wall, and forcibly kissed her.
“I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers,” Stoynoff wrote. “I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger—a looming figure—and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned.”
Trump has denied forcing himself on women without their consent, describing the comments he made in the leaked 2005 tape about grabbing women he barely knew “by the pussy” were just “locker room talk.”
In response to Stoynoff’s story, a Trump spokeswoman told People, “This never happened. There is no merit or veracity to this fabricated story.”
Two other women came to the New York Times with their own accounts of Trump forcing himself on them without their permission in a story published Wednesday, and the Palm Beach Post published another article from a woman who said he kissed her without consent.
In the 2005 tape, Trump said, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Stoynoff reported that the experience left her “speechless” and “violated.” She said that Trump told her “we’re going to have an affair” in the moments before Melania came back downstairs, and then acted “as if nothing had happened” for the duration of her visit.
She recalled feeling “ashamed” and blaming herself for what happened, but not wanting to come forward because he was a “famous, powerful, wealthy man” who could “discredit and destroy me.”
Instead, she asked to be taken off the Trump beat, and only discussed the incident with close friends and family until she saw him discuss the “Access Hollywood” tape.
“I was relieved. I finally understood for sure that I was not to blame for his inappropriate behavior,” Stoynoff wrote, saying she also felt “violated and muzzled all over again.”
“I’m not sure what locker room talk consists of these days,” she wrote of his explanation for his comments. “I only know that I wasn’t in a locker room when he pushed me against a wall. I was in his home, as a professional, and his beautiful pregnant wife was just upstairs.”
“Talk is talk. But it wasn’t just talk in my case, it was very much action.”
“And, just for the record, Mr. Trump, I did not consent.”