A Huntington Beach woman is suing oh-so-soon-to-be U.S. President Donald Trump for defamation.
As Gloria Allred had when Summer Zervos alleged at an October news conference that The Apprentice cast member kissed her and grabbed her breast without permission, the famed Los Angeles attorney sat by her client’s side as the suit filed in New York was announced.
Zervos, who was a contestant on season 5 of the NBC reality show, says she had already heard “You’re fired” from Trump when she continued to be mentored by the billionaire, who apparently had a … ahem … position in mind for her as well.
Inside Trump’s New York office in 2007, he caught Zervos off guard when he planted one on her lips, she alleges, adding that later, as she was about the leave, Trump again kissed her on the kisser.
She claims the encounter left her dazed, confused and embarrassed because Trump had previously praised her for her business smarts, although Zervos adds the president-elect had also noted she is attractive.
Still, Zervos says she soldiered on when Trump later invited her to dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then to a bungalow where she alleges he called her his “OC angel,” gave her an open-mouthed kiss and grabbed her breast.
After Zervos refused Trump’s advances, she claims, a job offer from the billionaire was withdrawn.
The Republican says she felt compelled to come forward in October after the leak of the famous Access Hollywood video in which Trump is heard making lewd remarks about women.
Before his election, Trump called the allegations of Zervos and other women “outright lies,” and that is the basis for this new defamation claim.
“[I]t was Donald Trump who was lying when he falsely denied his predatory misconduct with Summer Zervos, and derided her for perpetrating a ‘hoax’ and making up a ‘phony’ story to get attention,” the lawsuit says. “Donald Trump lied again, and again, and again, and again. In doing so, he used his national and international bully pulpit to make false factual statements to denigrate and verbally attack Ms. Zervos and the other women.”
It goes on to say that “Mr. 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.”
A Trump spokesman says there is no truth to the Zervos story and essentially called her case par for the course for someone represented by Allred, who compared her current client’s allegations to those Paula Jones leveled against Bill Clinton.
Among those taking the Zervos story seriously is Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the women’s rights group UltraViolet.
“Summer Zervos is incredibly brave to come forward and hold her abuser, the next President of the United States, accountable for sexually assaulting her,” Chaudhary says in a statement. “Zervos is one of at least 11 women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Trump since the 2005 Access Hollywood video emerged of him bragging about sexual assaulting women and getting away with it because he’s famous.
“Simply put, the next President of the United States is a serial sexual abuser and self-professed sexual predator. This is a terrifying reality that should frighten all Americans. Too many survivors of sexual assault don’t come forward because they are afraid of not being believed. We must hold Trump accountable if we want to start setting a different precedent, one where survivors aren’t slandered for telling the truth.”
Chaudhary claims the more than 1 million UltraViolet members “fully support Summer and all survivors of sexual assault in their fight for justice.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.