Longtime advice columnist and former TV host E. Jean Carroll on Friday became the latest woman — in a group that now numbers more than a dozen — to accuse President Donald Trump of assault or misconduct.
In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, published in New York magazine, Carroll wrote that Trump raped her in Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan in the mid ’90s.
In a lengthy statement released by the White House, Trump denied Carroll’s allegation as he has similarly and steadfastly denied the other women’s accounts.
“Regarding the ‘story’ by E. Jean Carroll, claiming she once encountered me at Bergdorf Goodman 23 years ago. I’ve never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation,” Trump said. “It should be sold in the fiction section.”
Despite Trump’s claim he “never met” Carroll, there is a photo of him with her published in the New York piece.
His statement continued: “Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda. … It’s just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence.”
The assault Carroll described “never happened,” Trump said.
In unsparing detail in the excerpt, from her memoir What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, Carroll recalled allegedly running into Trump in the department store in Manhattan in either late 1995 or early 1996 and his subsequent attack on her in a dressing room.
At the time, Carroll was the host of a cable advice show. For nearly 30 years she has been the author of an eponymous advice column for Elle, the longest-running such column in the country.
She wrote that she did not report the incident to police and there were no witnesses; Bergdorf Goodman said they had no security footage from that time period, according to New York.
However, two unnamed friends of Carroll’s confirmed to New York that she told them what happened at the time.
“He raped you,” one friend told Carroll, according to her excerpt. “He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.”
In his statement responding to her, the president noted the lack of witnesses, surveillance video or a police report and suggested, without evidence, that Carroll might have worked with political rivals in telling her story.
“False accusations diminish the severity of real assault,” Trump said. “All should condemn false accusations and any actual assault in the strongest possible terms.”
“It is a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations,” he said.
According to Carroll, she ran into Trump as she was about to leave Bergdorf Goodman.
“He says: ‘Hey, you’re that advice lady!’ ” she wrote. “And I say … ‘Hey, you’re that real-estate tycoon!’ “
The two had met before, Carroll wrote. Trump “look[ed] prettier than ever” and he asked her for advice on what kind of gift he should buy for an unnamed woman. (He was married at the time to Marla Maples, with whom he shares daughter Tiffany Trump.)
Eventually the two made their way to the store’s lingerie section and into a dressing room where, according to Carroll, she believed she would succeed in having Trump jokingly try on a piece of women’s clothing.
“The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips,” she wrote. “I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.”
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Carroll continued: “The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens [my] overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”
Amid their “colossal struggle,” Carroll wrote, she tried to push him away, tried to stomp on his feet, and was eventually able to get away and run out of the store.
The altercation took three minutes or less, she wrote.
Addressing the reflexive question of why she has not spoken out previously, Carroll wrote in the excerpt that “receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun.”
“Also,” she continued, “I am a coward.”
Her story echoes multiple other women who have accused Trump of assault or misconduct dating back decades.
Former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff said she was attacked by him while reporting a story at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 2005.
In a first-person account published in PEOPLE in 2016, Stoynoff recalled the incident while alone with Trump at a room in his club. “Within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” she said then. (“It never happened. It’s a lie,” Trump has said of Stoynoff.)
Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, earlier this year sued Trump, claiming he forcibly kissed her in August 2016.
“This accusation is absurd on its face,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told PEOPLE at the time of Johnson’s allegation. “This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eyewitness accounts.”
Johnson’s suit referenced Stoynoff’s story and accusations by other women that the president has forcibly kissed them — which the suit described as “a pattern of predatory behavior towards women.”
Separately, Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of raping her in the late ’80s but later recanted. She said in a statement that while she “felt violated” at the time and “referred to this as a ‘rape’ … I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
In a 2015 statement, she said, in part, “Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised 3 children that we love and are very proud of.”
Asked in May 2016 about his ex-wife’s charge of rape, Trump told PEOPLE: “It never took place.”