Earlier this week, LawNewz.com unearthed a $125 million federal sexual assault lawsuit, filed against Donald Trump in 1997, which alleges that the real estate developer violated the plaintiff’s “physical and mental integrity” by touching her intimately, without her consent, after her boyfriend entered into a business relationship with him.
The 12-page complaint was filed on April 25, 1997, by Jill Harth Houraney, whose (now ex-)husband George was partnered with Trump on something called the American Dream Festival, “an event-oriented affair that includes a ‘Calendar Girl’ competition, whereby young, often vulnerable female contestants compete for prizes and titles.”
The complaint alleges that Trump asked his business partner if he was sleeping with Jill Harth Houraney, who was also employed by the festival, and if it was “just for the night or what?” It also alleges that Trump groped her, violated her “physical and mental integrity,” and engaged in “Svengali-type acts to control and subjugate” her to his “will with demeaning and perverted communications” demanding that she become his sex slave. The allegations continued:
According to the complaint, after a business meeting in January 1993, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump “forcibly prevented [Harth Houraney] from leaving and forcibly removed [her] to a bedroom,” where he subjected her to his “unwanted sexual advances, which included touching of [her] private parts in an act constituting attempted ‘rape.’” That same month, he allegedly assaulted her in his daughter’s room:
Harth Houraney had made similar accusations against Trump in a breach-of-contract suit the couple filed against Trump in 1995, which a federal judge had agreed to seal. The 1998 civil-rights lawsuit was initially put into the public record, until Harth Houraney dropped the suit about a month after filing it.
At the time, Trump denied all of the allegations, suggesting to the New York Daily News that the suit “was a desperate attempt to get me to settle a case they can’t win.” Reportedly, Trump did settle the breach-of-contract suit for a six-figure sum later that year (after the sexual assault suit was dropped).
In a statement to LawNewz.com, Trump’s special counsel, Michael Cohen, described Harth Houraney as her ex-husband’s “pawn.” He said: “There is no truth to the story at all. The plaintiff in the matter, Jill Harth, would acknowledge the same.” Harth gave a similar account, saying that she had been “under duress” and “pressured” to file the suit.
“I saw him [Donald] recently, and he said I looked good,” Harth said. “The allegations were twisted and embellished. Everything could be looked at in different way.” However, when asked by the Guardian whether she stood by the allegations made in the lawsuit, Harth wrote, in a text message, “Yes.”