Activist attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference Sunday to further support the claims of Summer Zervos, who alleges Donald Trump sexually assault her at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007.
Zervos, a former contestant on ‘The Apprentice,’ claims Trump summoned her to his hotel room where he made repeated, unwanted advances when she had planned to meet him for dinner to discuss employment opportunities.
Allred was accompanied by Ann Russo, a friend of Zervos who said she was told by Zervos in 2010 that Trump had been “verbally, physically and sexually aggressive with her, and that she rebuffed his advances.”
Zervos was not present. Allred stated she was working and trying to maintain a normal life.
Allred also addressed the case of John Barry, Zervos’ cousin who released a statement expressing shock at her allegations, saying Zervos had viewed Trump as an “inspiration” and “praised the good things he’s done for her in his life.”
Zervos herself has said she admired Trump and was thrilled to be invited as a contestant on his show. Even following the alleged incident, according to Allred, she “continued to believe that his alleged conduct toward her was not indicative of his character, but rather something he did in the moment. That he was probably ashamed of his behavior and that he would not repeat it.”
However, after hearing his words on the “Access Hollywood” tape released Oct. 8, “she realized that the man that she admired and that she thought she knew was someone who believed that women were there for his sexual pleasure, and that what allegedly happened to her was entirely consistent with Mr. Trump’s spoken words,” Allred said. “This is what prompted her to come forward.”
Allred also called Barry’s motive and character into question, producing texts he sent Zervos that reveal a family dispute following Barry’s failure to show up for work and in which he calls himself a “loser.”
Russo, a licensed clinical social worker, met Zervos in 2002 but had not spoken to her for several years after moving out of state. When she saw Friday’s press conference, however, “it brought me to tears,” she said, “because I had known this and kept it inside, knowing that Summer’s a very private person.”
Russo said Zervos had told her she was conflicted about Trump’s behavior, saying it was unsettling but she felt it didn’t reveal his character and she still aspired to work for his organization.
“She had difficultly reconciling how a man she had so much respect for as a business man could behave in such careless manner,” Russo said. “She continued to support him, and viewed his sexual advances as a mistake he must have regretted. Summer had trouble acknowledging, even to herself, that he could be so successful and giving, and also be a sexual predator.”
Russo, who has worked with many rape and sexual assault survivors in her career, said Zervos’ inner conflict mirrored that of many others who were victimized by someone they had previously held a positive image of.
Russo is one of three people Zervos said she told of the incident, along with her father and another friend.
Allred said she received numerous calls from women alleging Trump’s sexual misconduct before he had even announced his candidacy, and the calls continue to come in.
“I’ve been on the phone this weekend quite a bit,” she said.
She panned Trump’s tactic of harshly denying his accusers, at times even critiquing their appearance and suggesting they are not attractive enough for him to sexually assault.
“Women will not be bullied into silence,” Allred said. “I can assure him that more women will be coming forward.”
See video of the full press conference below.