A woman has come forward with claims that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump grabbed her and kissed her against her will at a Mother’s Day brunch in the late 90s at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Cathy Heller, now 63, told the Guardian that Trump forced himself on her during a Mother’s Day brunch in about 1997 which she attended with her husband, three children and members of her husband’s family.
Trump was making the rounds, Heller recalls, and stopped at their table. When introduced, she stood to shake hands with the former reality TV star.
“He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she said.
Heller demurred, attempting to turn away, and nearly lost her balance.
“And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips,” she said. Again, she turned her face and he planted a lingering kiss on the corner of her mouth.
“He kept me there for a little too long,” said Heller. “And then he just walked away.”
“I was angry and shaken,” she told the Guardian.
Trump, she remembers, “was pissed. He couldn’t believe a woman would pass up the opportunity.”
Two other people offered similar accounts of the unsettling encounter. Heller’s friend Susan Klein vividly remembers Heller telling her about the incident when it took place and one of Heller’s relatives who was seated at the table — but who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.
That person describes Heller as being “really freaked out” when Trump left the table. Trump had been physically intimidating with Heller and “got in her face.”
“He was very forceful,” they said. “She really was definitely affected by this man who was very aggressive toward her.”
Heller received an email from Klein on the day that the Access Hollywood tape was released in which the real estate tycoon can be heard boasting to Billy Bush that his fame allows him to force himself on women without their consent and never suffer any consequences.
“I keep thinking about how he treated you,” wrote Klein. “Obviously not an isolated incident.”
“You were one of Trump’s victims,” she said. “He said when he sees a pretty woman, he just kisses her, he doesn’t even wait.”
Klein told the Guardian, “(W)hen this tape came out, I couldn’t believe it, because it was exactly what he said he did and had done to Cathy.”
Since the tape was released, eight other women have come forward with similar stories of groping, unwelcome kissing and other forms of sexual misconduct on Trump’s part. He and his campaign have denounced the women as frauds, accusing them of lying and — in the case of People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff — alleging that they aren’t attractive enough to warrant Trump’s attention.
The Guardian said that since Trump began campaigning for president, the topic of his sleazy, “entitled” treatment of Heller that Mother’s Day has come up on multiple occasions.
One friend told the newspaper that “before all the stories came out I remember she said, ‘He grabbed me, he pulled me toward him, he tried to kiss me.’ It made her very uncomfortable.”
Heller — who said that she is a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — said that she feels “validated and vindicated” hearing stories of other women who suffered at Trump’s wandering hands. She decided to speak up after she heard him dismiss the 2005 audio as “locker room talk.”
“He said this is just talk, but it’s not just talk,” Heller said. “This was him.”