Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump apparently once had a penchant for walking in on beauty pageant contestants while they were changing.
“He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked,” Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona in 2001, recalled to KCBS-TV for a story published Tuesday.
Trump’s campaign has been embroiled in controversy over a 2005 audiotape in which he boasted about his celebrity status allowing him to grope and kiss women.
On Sunday, CNN published separate 2005 audio of Trump bragging to shock-jock Howard Stern about walking into contestants’ dressing rooms when they were naked or half-naked. He told Stern that owning the Miss Universe competition allowed him to “get away with” walking into the contest’s dressing room while the women were naked or in the middle of changing.
“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump told Stern. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”
“You’re like a doctor,” Stern said.
Trump continued, “You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good.”
Trump also hinted that he may have slept with contestants and was asked if that would be a conflict of interest. He answered that it could be, but that those concerns don’t really come up until “a little bit later on.”
And Trump’s claims of having intruded on women while they were changing appear to be corroborated by several contestants themselves.
“Our first introduction to him was when we were at the dress rehearsal and half naked changing into our bikinis,” Dixon, who was 18 at the time, told KCBS-TV.
She added that it was awkward for her and the other contestants to have “the owner come waltzing in when we were naked or half naked in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.”
As “Miss Arizona,” Dixon said that she veers toward conservatism and that her decision to discuss what happened behind the scenes has nothing to do with politics.
“I’m telling you Donald Trump owned the pageant for the reasons to utilize his power to get around beautiful women,” she said. “Who do you complain to? He owns the pageant. There’s no one to complain to. Everyone there works for him.”
On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reported that four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Trump walked in on the contestants — some of whom were as young as 15 — when they were changing.
Mariah Billado, who was Miss Vermont Teen USA, said, “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a man in here.’”
Trump said, she recalled, something along the lines of “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”
The three other women spoke to the online news site on the condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to be swept up in a media maelstrom. Two said they quickly tried to cover their bodies and one described the experience as “shocking” and “creepy.” The third said she was already dressed when Trump came in.
BuzzFeed reported that it spoke with 11 other contestants from the 1997 competition who did not recall seeing the media personality in their dressing room. Several said they did not think he was there.
Trump’s bid for the White House has been plagued with accusations of racism, sexism and xenophobia. His statements about women have been placed under increased scrutiny since last Friday, when the Washington Post published the 2005 audiotape in which, among other things, he talked about grabbing women “by the p****.” He later dismissed his words as “locker room talk” and beseeched the public to focus instead on former President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News about the women claiming he walked into the beauty pageant dressing rooms.