Two Women Claim Donald Trump Groped Them: "He Was Like an Octopus"

The Hollywood Reporter

Women are coming forward about Donald Trump as more discerning footage of the candidate resurfaced on Wednesday.

The New York Times spoke with Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who both claim they were touched and kissed without their consent by the GOP presidential nominee. Neither woman had told their story publicly before speaking with the newspaper.

In the article published on Wednesday, Leeds, 74, of Manhattan, details how more than three decades ago while traveling in first class, Trump lifted the armrest between them and began to touch her. According to Leeds, then 38, he grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

The post details each woman's experience with Trump. "He was like an octopus," Leeds told the New York publication, who also spoke to four people close to her to corroborate her account. "His hands were everywhere."

She added, "It was an assault."

Crooks, of Ohio, said she ran into Trump while working in his Trump Tower at her Manhattan real estate firm, Bayrock Group, in 2005 - the same year of the recently surfaced recording of Trump and Billy Bush that has embroiled the GOP nominee.

Crooks, who was 22 at the time, claims that Trump began kissing her when they were first introduced. He "kissed me directly on the mouth," she said. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

The newspaper also spoke to Crooks' sister, Brianne Webb, who recalled speaking to Crooks that day.

The Times says a "highly agitated" Trump denied both claims during a phone interview, telling the reporter who called about the story, "This never took place" and "You are a disgusting human being."

On Wednesday night, Trump's lawyers sent the Times a demand for a retraction, calling the article "reckless" and "defamatory."

"It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump's candidacy," the letter reads. "That is why you apparently performed an entirely inadequate investigation to test the veracity of theseand malicious allegations, including why these two individuals waited, in one case, 11 years, and, in another case, more than three decades, before deciding to come forward with theseand defamatory statements. Clearly, The New York Times is willing to provide a platform to anyone wishing to smear Mr. Trump's name and reputation prior to the election irrespective of whether the alleged statement have any basis in fact."

It continues, "We hereby demand that you immediately cease any further publication of this article, remove it from your website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology. Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies."

Also on Wednesday, the Palm Beach Post published an interview with a local woman named Mindy McGillivray, 36, who claimed Trump groped her in 2003 after a concert at the Mar-a-Lago hotel. While standing with then-fiancee Melania Trump, McGillivray says Donald Trump grabbed "close to the center of my butt." (Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied the story.)

CBS News unearthed Entertainment Tonight footage from 1992, also on Wednesday, where Trump is heard saying, "I am going to be dating her in 10 years, can you believe it?" about a young girl. (The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.)

Read more: Tom Hanks on Donald Trump's Vulgar 'Access Hollywood' Remarks: "I'm Offended as a Man"

During Sunday's presidential debate, Trump denied that he had ever acted on the words he is heard saying in the 2005 conversation recorded on a hot mic with former Access Hollywood host Bush, who is now negotiating his exit from the Today show with NBC due to his involvement.

In the audiotape, Trump says he "did try to f - " Bush's married co-host Nancy O'Dell - who is now a correspondent on Entertainment Tonight - and that famous men can "grab" women "by the pussy" and "do anything." Saying of women, "When you're a star, they let you do it."

Moderator Anderson Cooper pressed Trump on the tape Sunday, saying: "You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women, do you understand that?"

Trump, however, again dismissed his words as "locker room talk."

When asked whether he had ever sexually assaulted a woman, Trump said flatly, "No, I have not."

Leeds told the Times of her reaction while watching that moment during the debate. "I wanted to punch the screen," she said.

In May, Temple Taggart, Miss Utah 1997, also told the Times of alleged unwanted advances from Trump. "He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, 'Oh my God, gross.' He was married to Marla Maples at the time," she said of his behavior at the first Miss USA pageant he supervised as owner. 

Read more: Tapes or No Tapes, 'The Apprentice' Alums Recall Donald Trump's Sexist and Racist Behavior

The Trump campaign issued a statement on Wednesday from communications director Jason Miller, calling the "entire" Times article "fiction."

"For the New York Times to launch a completelycoordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous," the statement reads. "To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election."

The statement continues: "It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.

"Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton's candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack. This is a sad day for the Times."

On Thursday, The New York Times' lawyer responded with the below statement: 

David McCraw, NYT lawyer, responds to Trump's letter.

- Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) October 13, 2016

Oct. 12, 4:35 p.m.: Updated with Trump statement.

5:07 p.m.: Updated with Palm Beach Post story.

5:18 p.m.: Updated with ET video footage.

9:30 p.m.: Updated with lawyers' demand for retraction. 

Oct. 13, 10:40 am: Updated with NYT lawyer response.