A friend of Summer Zervos, a contestant on season five of “The Apprentice,” appeared at a Sunday news conference to corroborate her claim that Donald Trump groped and tried to force himself on her in a 2007 meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel bungalow.
Ann Russo, a licensed clinical social worker, said that Zervos told her in 2010 that Trump had been “verbally, physically, and sexually aggressive with her” but that she had rebuffed his advances.
“It was apparent she was conflicted with what Mr. Trump had done to her,” she said, adding that Zervos was torn between her admiration for Trump and Trump’s behavior.
“As a therapist, I recognize the conflict that she was experiencing,” said Russo, who said she also has training as a rape survivor counselor.
Russo said that she reached out to Gloria Allred on Friday, after watching Zervos’ press conference, and then was upset to see Zervos being “trashed” afterward.
Zervos claims that after she was “fired” from “The Apprentice” in 2006, she sought to maintain contact with Trump for career and business advice, as well as for possible employment with his company.
They eventually set up a meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but when Zervos arrived a security guard led her to Trump’s bungalow. There, he kissed and groped her, and tried to lure her to his bedroom, before she rebuffed his advances and made it clear she was not interested, she said.
“I believed her six years ago and I believe her today,” Russo said.
She declined to go into detail of how she met Zervos, other than that they lived in the same area. She said that they had not been in contact for several years.
Allred said that Zervos also told her father about the 2007 incident as well as one other unidentified person.
The Trump campaign has tried to debunk Zervos’ story, saying that she had sought to invite Trump to her restaurant in April.
John Barry, Zervos’ first cousin, said in a statement issued by the campaign that she praised Trump up until he turned down an invite to come to her restaurant.
“That was until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no,” Barry said in the statement. “I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.”
Allred said she could not comment on whether the invite occurred.
But she said that Barry did show “hostility” to Zervos in recent months, and she produced text messages from May between him and Zervos. In them, Barry expresses remorse for being fired by Zervos’ father from the family restaurant.
“I am done. He fired me and I don’t blame him,” Barry says in one text to Summer Zervos, according to Allred.
In another, he wrote to Zervos, “Please don’t look up to me right now. I am a loser.”
Allred suggested that the messages show the start of a family rift, but she did not want to go into further details.
She also said that Zervos has not been paid, and is “not interested in doing any interviews. She is doing her job.”
Allred also indicated that she has been talking to other Trump accusers, but she would not name any or how many had contacted her.
“We are being contacted frequently,” Allred said.