Headline-grabbing as President Donald Trump‘s comments about E. Jean Carroll were — in which he said the noted writer, after she accused him of raping her in the ’90s, was “not my type” — his defense did not surprise Natasha Stoynoff.
Like Carroll, Stoynoff has also come forward describing a physically harrowing sexual assault by Trump: A former PEOPLE writer, Stoynoff said in 2016 that she was forcibly kissed by the now-president while interviewing him for the magazine in Florida in 2005.
And, as with Carroll, Trump dismissed Stoynoff’s accusation in part by attacking her appearance. “Look at her. Look at her words. Tell me what you think,” he said in 2017. “I don’t think so.”
Stoynoff tells PEOPLE now: “When Trump feels threatened or challenged by women, he’s quick to cast aspersions on their moral character, their motives and their mental health.”
“I’m not surprised at all that it took E. Jean so long to speak publicly about this,” Stoynoff says. “She was afraid, as were the rest of us who finally spoke up.”
In her forthcoming memoir, Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle and former TV host, recounts in unsparing detail how Trump allegedly raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan in the mid ’90s.
Her accusation was made public in an excerpt from her book published Friday in New York magazine.
“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 recalled, adding, “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.”
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.” Carroll wrote that she fought back and, after a few minutes, was able to escape.
She did not report the incident to police and there were no witnesses, she wrote; 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 the magazine that she told them what happened at the time.
In a lengthy statement later Friday, Trump pointed to the lack of corroborating witnesses or security video for Carroll’s story. In an Oval Office interview on Monday, he again insisted she was lying.
“I’ll say it with great respect: No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, okay?” he told The Hill.
The president has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by more than a dozen women. He has steadfastly denied the allegations and repeatedly claimed he does not know the women involved despite, as in Stoynoff’s case, there being evidence the two had met.
During his 2016 campaign, when a woman said he had reached up her skirt on an airplane, Trump told supporters: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”
His defense against Carroll was just the latest example of this habit of denigrating women who speak out against him, as has been noted. Indeed, Trump’s public image has long deeply intertwined with vicious attacks on Mika Brzezinski, Megyn Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell, all of whom have challenged him in various ways.
“Trump’s favorite method of bullying and demeaning women who stand up to him is to attack and ridicule their physical appearance — be they beauty queens, actresses, politicians, comedians, journalists, supermodels, or … anyone who happened to be born female,” Stoynoff says.
“It’s a true measure of the depth of his misogynistic contempt,” she says. (A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Stoynoff’s interview.)
She tells PEOPLE she believes “there are more women like us out there.”
While the president has tended to generalize that his accusers’ looks are so far beneath him it must prove that they are liars, Stoynoff says the long list of stories of his predation — all of which he denied — proves exactly the opposite.
“I don’t know what his ‘type’ for assaulting is,” she says. “I think it’s simply a woman who is unfortunate enough to come within his reach at that moment. But I’ll tell you one thing: I’m sure each and every one of us who has come forward about his assaults wished we were not his type.”
Stoynoff continues: “To Trump, a man who has bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, a bit of rape in a department store change room must be no big deal at all.”