Another story of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump publicly bragging about violating women’s privacy and bodily autonomy has emerged. Women have shared stories of being harassed by Trump in the very ways he has publicly boasted about.
On an appearance on The Howard Stern Show in 2005, published on Sunday by CNN, Trump described going backstage at the beauty pageants while the contestants were undressed. “Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” he said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”
“You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’” he continued. “And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”
According to interviews BuzzFeed News conducted with former Miss Teen USA contestants, Trump did just that in 1997. Four women who were competing in the pageant that year — including one who was 15 at the time — recalled that Trump walked into the dressing area while they were changing.
One of them called it “shocking” and “creepy” and said she rushed to cover herself. Another recalled that the contestants were “just scrambling to grab stuff… whatever garments they had.”
Another called it “really shocking,” saying, “We were all naked.”
“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” Mariah Billado, former Miss Vermont Teen USA, said.
Billado remembered Trump saying something like, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.” Another who was 17 at the time recalled that it seemed Trump felt “it was his given right… because he owned the pageant.”
“At the time, you’re a teenager, you’re intimidated — it’s Donald Trump, he runs the pageant,” she said.
Another former contestant has told the same story. Tasha Dixon, who competed as Miss Arizona at age 18, told CBS2 LA, “He just came strolling right in, there was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless, other girls were naked.” She added that they were in “a very physically vulnerable position.”
“Who do you complain to? He owns the pageant,” she added. “So there’s no one to complain to, everyone there works for him.”
None of the women who talked to BuzzFeed News said Trump touched them or said anything explicit. Meanwhile, 11 other contestants didn’t remember seeing Trump walk into the dressing area. The Trump campaign has called these stories “totally false.”
But on another episode of Stern’s show, Trump also implied that he slept with contestants. When asked if he had ever had sex with a Miss Universe or Miss USA contestant, he answered, “I never comment on things like that.” Later when someone in the background said, “Give us the first letter of the country you had sex with,” Trump responded, “How many letters are there?”
It’s one of the many times where women’s accusations of experiencing inappropriate behavior from Donald Trump have been backed up by the nominee’s own words.
After the Washington Post leaked video of him describing sexually assaulting women by kissing them without permission and grabbing their genitals, saying “you can do anything” as a celebrity, he tried to dismiss the comments as “locker room banter” that doesn’t “reflect who I am.”
Yet beauty pageant contestants had already talked publicly about being kissed unwillingly by Trump. Temple Taggart, a 1997 Miss USA contestant, told the New York Times earlier this year that he introduced himself to her by kissing her directly on the lips. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, gross,’” she said. “I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’” Another anonymous woman has said Trump also kissed her against her will.
Trump has also been accused of sexual assaulting women he worked with. Jill Harth, who worked with him on beauty pageants, filed a lawsuit alleging that he put his hands on her thighs and genitals under a table during a business meeting. Then after a meeting a year later concluded at Mar-a-Lago, she said he forced her into a bedroom and assaulted her, touching her genitals and attempting to rape her.
Beyond outright assault, Trump has also been accused of sexual harassment in workplaces other than beauty pageants. During tapings of his reality TV show The Apprentice, crew members say he would discuss which female contestants he wanted to sleep with as the cameras rolled and asked male contestants to tell him which they would sleep with.
He focused on one camerawoman in particular, making comments about her buttocks and her looks. Cast members remembered him also making a female contestant twirl in front of him so he could look at her body and asking another woman about her breast size.
Trump also faced a lawsuit brought by employees of one of his golf clubs that included accusations that he pressured managers to hire attractive women, fire overweight ones, and display the prettiest when he came to visit. “I had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were ‘not pretty enough’ and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women,” one woman said in a sworn declaration.