A woman at the centre of sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump has spoken for the first time in detail about her personal experience with the billionaire tycoon who this week became the Republican nominee for president.
Jill Harth, a makeup artist, has stayed quiet for almost 20 years about the way Trump pursued her, and – according to a lawsuit she instigated – cornered her and groped her in his daughter’s bedroom.
After Trump mounted his campaign for the White House, details emerged of the 1997 complaint, in which Harth accused him of “attempted ‘rape’”.
She said she was quickly inundated with interview requests from major US television networks, but resolved not to speak about the events – until Trump publicly said in May that her claims were “meritless” and his daughter Ivanka gave an interview in which she said her father was “not a groper”.
Harth, who feels she has been publicly branded a liar and believes her business has suffered because of her association with the allegations, decided to speak out about her experience with Trump because she wants an apology.
In an hour-long interview at the Guardian’s New York office on Tuesday, Harth said she stands by her charges against Trump, which run from low-grade sexual harassment to an episode her lawyers described in the lawsuit as “attempted ‘rape’”.
She first met Trump in December 1992 at his offices in Trump Tower, where she and her then romantic partner, George Houraney, were making a business presentation. The couple wanted to recruit Trump to back their American Dream festival, in which Harth oversaw a pin-up competition known as American Dream Calendar Girls. Harth described that meeting as “the highlight of our career”.