Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg October 20, 2016

Donald Trump says reports of sexual assault by him have been disproven

Republican nominee Donald Trump said at the third and final presidential debate that allegations from nine women that he groped or kissed them without their consent have been debunked.

"Nobody has more respect for women than I do — nobody," Trump said. "And frankly, those stories have been largely debunked."

Have they?

We decided to look into Trump’s claim. What we found is that while some accounts have been challenged, none have been shown to be untrue by any objective measure.

We’ll discuss the situation surrounding each accuser.

Jessica Leeds

Leeds told the New York Times that in the 1980s, Trump groped her during an airplane flight to New York. According to the New York Times, Leeds "told the story to at least four people close to her, who also spoke with The New York Times."

The Trump campaign offered a contrary account from a man who said he was on that flight. Anthony Gilberthorpe told the New York Post that Leeds was the one who was being flirtatious and that he saw nothing inappropriate. Gilberthorpe has a checkered past involving his revelation that he procured young boys for high-ranking British politicians, but more importantly, he told the Post he has no evidence to support his story.

Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson challenged Leeds’ story on the grounds that the airplane Pierson said Leeds flew in didn’t have armrests as Leed’s described. No one knows what sort of plane Leeds was in.

For the most part, it’s word against word.

Mindy McGillivray

McGillivray told the Palm Beach Post that in 2003, Trump grabbed her behind at a Mar-a-Lago concert. McGillivray was assisting photographer Ken Davidoff. Davidoff told the Post reporter he "vividly remembers when McGillivray pulled him aside moments after the alleged incident and told him, ‘Donald just grabbed my ass!’ "

The counter information comes from the conservative website thegatewaypundit, which claims that there was no concert on the day Davidoff said. But the website asserts that without proof.

Even if the photographer got the date wrong, and there’s no proof that he did, that doesn’t debunk the allegation.

Featured Fact-check

Natasha Stoynoff

Stoynoff wrote in People magazine that during a pause in a 2005 interview with Trump and his wife Melania, Trump and she were alone in a room briefly where he forcibly kissed her. She told a co-worker, friends and family soon after the event happened but did not include it in her article.

The counter information comes from Trump’s former butler Anthony Senecal who told the Palm Beach Post that "it never happened."  Melania Trump also disputes later meeting Stoynoff on the street as Stoynoff said.

Again, we have the confirmation of Stoynoff’s friends, and at most, it’s her word against Senecal’s.

Summer Zervos

Zervos was a former contestant on Trump’s reality show The Apprentice. She said she went to Trump’s golf course in Palos Verdes, Calif., in 2007 to apply for a job and Trump forcibly kissed her and groped her. In a news conference, a social worker said that Zervos told her about the encounter in 2010, years before Trump announced his presidential bid.

Trump posted on Facebook that he never met Zervos at a hotel and that she stayed in touch with him. Trump wrote that as recently as April this year, she invited him to come to her restaurant in California. Also, Zervos’cousin said she only had good things to say about Trump.

Trump’s account raises questions about Zervos’ contact with him, but it does not rebut her claim.

Claims from other women

There are five other women who say that Trump groped or kissed them without their consent. They are Cassandra Searles, Rachel Crooks, Kristen Anderson, Jill Harth and Temple Taggert McDowell.

We found no evidence to undermine their claims other than Trump’s own denials.

We asked the Trump campaign to send us details that would disprove the women’s accounts and did not hear back.

Our ruling

Trump said that the stories of him groping or forcing himself on women "have been largely debunked." His campaign offered no evidence of that. We found that five of the nine stories have not been independently disputed. Of the remaining four stories, the women told friends, family or colleagues at the time, which provides some support. On the flip side, there is the account of Trump’s former butler and a man who acknowledges that he has no proof of his version of events.

While some of the women’s stories have been questioned, not one has been conclusively debunked, and the majority of the stories haven’t been challenged by any facts other than Trump’s denials.

We rate this claim False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Jon Greenberg

Donald Trump says reports of sexual assault by him have been disproven

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up