A former contestant on season five of “The Apprentice” is now accusing Donald Trump of making inappropriate advances towards her in 2007.
But Trump, denying the allegations, has released an email that shows the woman praising him earlier this year.
It comes as the Republican presidential nominee is denying a barrage of allegations of sexual improprieties from a variety of women this week.
During a Friday press conference organized by liberal celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, “The Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos said Trump kissed and touched her in 2007 in a pair of encounters as she attempted to get a job with him after the show ended.
Reading from a letter during a press conference, Zervos said: “Mr. Trump, when I met you, I was so impressed with your talents that I wanted to be like you. I wanted the job in your organization. Instead, you treated me like as an object to be hit on.”
“I was incredibly embarrassed by your sexual advances and shared this information with a select few people close to me,” Zervos said. “Mr. Trump, I feel that you are interested in me only because you wanted to have a sexual relationship with me and for no other reason.”
Zervos said she decided to make the allegation public after Trump denied inappropriate behavior during last Sunday’s presidential debate.
“After hearing the released audio tapes and your denials during the debate,” Zervos said, “I feel that I have to speak out about your behavior. You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star.”
According to reports at the time in 2006, Zervos was the first contestant to get booted from the show. “Viewers got their first look at The Apprentice’s new fifth season with last night’s premiere, where Summer Zervos, a 30-year-old restaurant owner from Huntington Beach, CA, became the first person fired after making the mistake of interrupting The Donald during the show’s boardroom session.”
Trump denied the allegations in a Friday statement. “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years,” he said. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
Late Friday, the campaign released the email sent by Zervos to Trump assistant Rhona Graff. In it, Zervos writes about her restaurant and requests “reconnecting” with Trump. “He will know my intentions are genuine,” she writes.
Trump campaign releases a glowing email from accuser Summer Zervos in April sent to Trump’s secretary… pic.twitter.com/7TpdwmK8QW
— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas) October 15, 2016
The Trump campaign also released a statement from John Barry of Mission Viejo, California who says he is the first cousin of Summer Zervos.
“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today. Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump,” he said.
“For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr. Trump and viewed him as an inspiration – a success story she wanted to copy,” Barry said. “Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr. Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press. She has praised the good things he’s done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.
Barry added: “That was until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no. 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. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.”
In his statement, Trump said “the media is now creating a theater of absurdity that threatens to tear our democratic process apart and poison the minds of the American public.”
“When Gloria Allred is given the same weighting on national television as the President of the United States, and unfounded accusations are treated as fact, with reporters throwing due diligence and fact-finding to the side in a rush to file their stories first, it’s evident that we truly are living in a broken system,” he said.
Just this week, a number of outlets have published fresh allegations against Trump, including the New York Times, the Palm Beach Post, People magazine, BuzzFeed and the Washington Post.
In a speech Thursday, Trump said “these vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.” He blamed the media’s preoccupation with these stories on a political and media establishment that views him as an “existential threat like they haven’t seen before.”
“There is nothing the political establishment will not do,” Trump said. “No lie that they won’t tell to hold their prestige and power at your expense. And that’s what’s been happening.”