Former Apprentice star files defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump

Former Apprentice candidate Summer Zervos files defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump

Ms Zervos is not suing him on the basis of alleged sexual assault - she is suing for defamation after Mr Trump failed to tell the truth about his alleged misconduct towards her

Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 17 January 2017 21:14

Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos has filed a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump, accusing him of failing to admit the truth about his alleged sexual assault.

Mr Trump could not be immediately reached for comment. He has previously denied all claims of sexual assault and sexually inappropriate behaviour with women.

Mr Trump was accused of "repeatedly kissing and groping" Ms Zervos around the time she was taking part in the fifth series of The Apprentice.

Just days before Mr Trump is about to be inaugurated, her lawyer, Goria Allred, led Ms Zervos by the hand into the Los Angeles-based press conference and read out a statement, accusing Mr Trump of behaving like a "sexual predator" and victimising her and many other women.

"There is no good time [to file the lawsuit]. There is no bad time. We were patient. But time is up," she said.

"Time to face the consequences," she added. "Women are not a footnote to history."

She alleged that her client had been subjected to unwanted sexual contact by Mr Trump and that she had told family and friends about the incidents not long after they occured.

She did not go public at the time, her lawyer said, as she "decided Donald Trump’s behaviour had been aberration, a test, or he may have even regretted or been ashamed of his behaviour".

Ms Zervos decided to pursue her case after she saw the leaked 2005 Access Hollywood video in which Mr Trump bragged to host Billy Bush about grabbing women’s genitals. She said his words were consistent with what she had experienced with him.

The President-elect then told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a debate that he had never acted inappropriately towards women. Those two factors convinced Ms Zervos to go public, Ms Allred said.

Ms Zervos said she would be willing to immediately retract the lawsuit with no monetary compensation or legal fees if Mr Trump would admit his alleged crime. She added she only wanted to repair her "reputation".

The audience had to be told to stop laughing when Donald Trump said he has respect for women

The lawyer said she would subpoena NBC for out-takes of Mr Trump on The Apprentice to obtain evidence of his alleged behaviour and crude comments to Ms Zervos during the making of the show.

The lawsuit was filed in New York on 17 January, three months after Ms Zervos first spoke publicly about the alleged mistreatment.

They sued for a "minimal, jurisdictional" amount of damages, because "what we really want is to prove defamation", said Ms Allred.

Her client is also suing for emotional distress, but is not suing Mr Trump for alleged sexual assault.

Ms Allred said her client “could no longer rationalise or excuse” Mr Trump’s alleged behaviour.

“Mr Trump had no shame,” said Ms Allred.

At least 13 other women have accused Mr Trump of sexual assault, and he has denied all of these claims, accusing the women of lying, being hungry for fame and being “sick”.

The lawsuit is the first to be filed since another unidentified accuser dropped her lawsuit which accused Mr Trump of raping her when she was a child. He strongly denied this allegation.

"Truth matters. Women matter. Those that allege they were victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct by Donald Trump matter," said Ms Allred at the press conference.

She added that her client had volunteered to take a polygraph test about her statement, and she passed it.

Ms Allred said Ms Zervos was "brave" and she knew she would receive "unwarranted attacks" by Mr Trump.

Ms Zervos and Ms Allred are attending the women's march in Washington DC on Saturday, along with other accusers.

When asked if Ms Zervos' case would be Ms Allred's last case against the President-elect, the lawyer replied: "I certainly hope not".

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