Summer Zervos, who accused Trump of groping her in 2007, is suing the President-elect for defamation after he claims they never met at his hotel.
With two days to go before his inauguration, Donald Trump is being sued for defamation by a woman who accused him of sexually inappropriate conduct, according to attorney-to-the-stars Gloria Allred, who announced the lawsuit at a press conference this afternoon.
A former contestant from The Apprentice is suing Donald Trump for defamation in relation to claims he groped and aggressively kissed her and then called her a liar.
Summer Zervos filed the lawsuit on Tuesday demanding that the president-elect “vindicate her reputation” by admitting the allegations are true.
Zervos announced the suit at a press conference at the Los Angeles office of her attorney, Gloria Allred, three days before Trump is due to be inaugurated, reviving a theme which dogged his election last year.
“I want Mr Trump to know that I would still be willing to dismiss my case against him immediately for no monetary compensation if he will simply retract his false and defamatory statements about me and acknowledge that I told the truth about him,” Zervos told reporters, reading from a brief statement.
The 20-page suit, filed in a New York court, makes a full-throated assault against the incoming United States commander-in-chief, calling him a sexual predator and misogynist who assaulted many women and then abused his political platform to brand them liars.
“But it was Donald Trump who was lying when falsely denied his predatory misconduct with Summer Zervos, and derided her for perpetrating a ‘hoax’ and making up a ‘phoney’ story to get attention,” it said.
Allred, a veteran women’s rights attorney with a flair for publicity, said she and Zervos would join the women’s march on Washington on Saturday, a day after Trump is sworn in.
The lawyer cited Paula Jones, who sued Bill Clinton in 1994, as an example of taking on a sitting president over alleged sexual harassment. “That is the essence and beauty of our system of justice. No one is above the law, including the president-elect, soon to be president of the United States.”
A Trump spokesperson, Hope Hicks, told the Guardian via email: “More of the same from Gloria Allred. There is no truth to this absurd story.” There was no immediate personal response from Trump, who in the past has used Twitter to rebut the accusations.
The suit was the first legal confirmation that the allegations of sexual misconduct will follow Trump into the White House. But its chance of success was an open question, with Allred calling it a David and Goliath case.
A trickle of allegations against Trump turned into a surge last October after a leaked Access Hollywood tape showed him boasting about sexual assault in a conversation with the host, Billy Bush, in 2005. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women] – I just start kissing them,” said Trump. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it … grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Zervos was one of those who came forward after the tape surfaced.
A Californian with aspirations to run a restaurant, she had participated in the fifth season of NBC’s The Apprentice, a reality show Trump hosted. Zervos alleged that during a visit to Trump’s office in December 2007, he kissed her twice on the mouth without her consent. He allegedly went further during a meeting at his bungalow in a Beverly Hills hotel, forcibly kissing, embracing and pressing his genitals against her.
According to the suit, Zervos felt compelled to speak out after Trump dismissed the Access Hollywood remarks as locker-room banter and said he had never assaulted anyone – “a boldfaced lie”, according to the suit. Zervos went public at a press conference at Allred’s office on 14 October.
Hours later, Trump’s campaign issued a statement denying her accusations and in turn accusing her of seeking the spotlight. The Republican candidate followed up with tweets and remarks at rallies accusing Zervos and other alleged victims of fabricating “phoney”, “100% false”, “outright lies” for political and monetary gain.
The suit said the president-elect was the mendacity peddler. “What did Donald Trump, the liar and misogynist do, to cover up up his lies? He lied again, and debased and denigrated Ms Zervos with false statements about her.”
It continued: “Trump knew that his false, disparaging statements would be heard and read by people around the world, and that these women, including Summer Zervos, would be subjected to threats of violence, economic harm and reputational damage.
Allred said Trump’s lawyers would muster powerful resources to defeat the suit but that he still must answer for his actions in a court of law, not via tweets from his bedroom.