The women closest to Donald Trump — including his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka — might insist that he loves women and “treats them equally,” but most evidence seems to indicate that the presumptive Republican presidential candidate is sexist. The latest bit comes from Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, who participated in the Miss USA pageant, owned by Trump from 2002 to 2015.
Alongside a Facebook photo of the Miss USA “class of 2013” posing in tight mini dresses, with a grinning Trump smack dab in the middle, Searles tagged her 43 fellow competitors, asking them, “Do y’all remember that one time we had to do our onstage introductions, but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes? Do you also remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property?” She added, “Oh I forgot to mention that guy will be in the running to become the next President of the United States.” The law student added that she “loves the idea of having a misogynist as the President.” She hashtagged the post #HeWillProbablySueMe #iHaveWorseStoriesSoComeAtMeBro #Drumpf.
Other contestants sounded off on their experiences with the real estate mogul. Paromita Mitra, Miss Mississippi USA 2013, admitted, “I literally have nightmares about that process,” while Shannon McAnally called Searles’s account “so extremely true and scary.” Anna Horne noted, “Scares me so much.”
According to a comment by Kesley Wheeler, Miss Texas 2010, Trump visited a group of the contestants along with an entourage of executives, and had the women pose for photos with the businessmen, whom Wheeler assumed Trump was “trying to impress/court with his ‘girls on parade.‘” Wheeler remembers Trump not taking the time or care to look her in the eye, even though their eyes were on the same level.
Some commenters did come to Trump’s defense, though. Joanne Nosuchinsky, who is a panelist on Fox News’s Red Eye with Tom Shillue, said that the pageant experience didn’t make her feel “particularly uncomfortable or degraded.” Others also clarified the distinction between Trump and the pageant itself, noting that while he might have acted inappropriately, being onstage was a rewarding experience.
But perhaps the most inflammatory accusation hurled at Trump is one from Searles, in which she insinuates he sexually assaulted her. “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room,” she wrote in the comments section.
Searles, of course, is not the first person to lodge complaints about Trump’s unsolicited advances. Former pageant producer Jill Harth, according to LawNewz.com, alleged that Trump “engaged in hostile and offensive sexual behavior” towards her from 1992 to 1997, including groping her and propositioning her for sex. A 1993 biography called Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, the Daily Beast reported, included an anecdote from his former wife Ivana Trump that she described as “rape” and said Trump “violated” her during sex. (Ivana later said the story was “without merit” and clarified that she didn’t mean to imply “criminal rape.”) And just recently, Yahoo News reporter Lisa Belkin wrote about how Trump “made a pass” at her back in 1987.
Interestingly enough, Trump’s relationship with the Miss USA organization was threatened last July after he compared Mexicans to drug-smuggling “rapists” in a campaign speech. NBC and Univision cancelled plans to air the show , sponsors dropped out, and hosts quit. The pageant eventually aired on Reelz, a small cable channel, and Trump sold his stake in the the Miss Universe Organization to WME/IMG in September.
Yahoo Style reached out to Searles and the Trump campaign for further comment and will update if we hear back.