Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement from Summer Zervos’ cousin on Friday suggesting that the former “Apprentice” contestant only accused Trump of sexual assault for attention. In response, high-powered lawyer Gloria Allred held a press conference Sunday with a social worker who says Zervos told her about the alleged assault years before Trump launched his presidential bid.
“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today,” John Barry wrote in the statement released by the Trump campaign on Friday. “Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump.”
During a press conference with Allred on Friday, Zervos alleged that Donald Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007, following her around his “bungalow” as she attempted to resist his advances.
Barry went on to suggest that Zervos only came forward with that account in “an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense.”
“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,” Barry wrote. “I don’t think it reflects well.”
Allred responded to Barry in a statement that same day, citing the testimony of a witness named Ann Russo with regard to Zervos’ “high moral and ethical standards.”
On Sunday, Allred held a press conference with Russo, a licensed social worker who Allred said met Zervos years before the incident at the center of Zervos’ accusations.
“In 2010, Summer told her that Mr. Trump had been verbally, physically and sexually aggressive with her,” Allred told reporters.
“I have every confidence in Summer’s integrity,” Russo said. “I believe that she is an honest person with very high moral and ethical standards.”
Russo said that she previously remained silent out of respect for Zervos’ privacy, but was “in tears” watching the Friday news conference in which Zervos made the accusations.
“Immediately she was trashed. Immediately,” Russo said, explaining that she reached out to Allred as a result of the backlash against Zervos. “What Summer is saying is true.”