A 26th woman has accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. Former model Amy Dorris’s story is remarkably similar to those of other women, like Cathy Heller, Natasha Stroynoff, Summer Zervos, Karen Johnson, and E. Jean Carroll, who have made credible allegations against the current president. It’s a similar story to one Trump described himself if the infamous Billy Bush Tapes.
All these women say that Trump, as he said on tape, “just start[ed] kissing them” without consent and then forcibly groped their genitalia, exactly like he said he has groped other women. But these allegations have never seemed to damage Donald Trump’s reputation, either because his fans don’t believe the stories of the women who have spoken out or because they do believe them and just don’t care. The Guardian presented Dorris’s story as an important investigation, a brave moment of a woman speaking truth to power, as it should be. But the American public has become so inured of the reports of sexual assault that surfaced regularly during his last campaign and throughout his presidency, it’s hard to imagine yet another troubling story swaying the outcome of the election.
Dorris says she was 24 in 1999 when she accompanied luxury fashion and lifestyle magnate Jason Binn, her then-boyfriend to New York City. At the time, Binn described Trump as his “best friend,” and they planned to watch the U.S. Open from Trump’s private box. Photographs from the trip show Dorris smiling alongside celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Combs, Lenny Kravitz, and in one Donald Trump clutches Dorris’s waist right in front of the room partition in the VIP box she says he later assaulted her behind after she went to the restroom:
“‘He just shoved his tongue down my throat and I was pushing him off,’ Dorris told the Guardian. ‘And then that’s when his grip became tighter and his hands were very gropey and all over my butt, my breasts, my back, everything. I was in his grip, and I couldn’t get out of it,’ she said, adding: “I don’t know what you call that when you’re sticking your tongue just down someone’s throat. But I pushed it out with my teeth. I was pushing it. And I think I might have hurt his tongue.’”
The story is very similar to the way writer E. Jean Carroll describes her alleged assault, which she says happened in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City a few years earlier: She says he pushed her against a wall, forcibly kissing and groping her. The only difference is that Carroll says she was unable to shove Trump off in time and alleges that he raped her in that dressing room.
And though Trump has described on tape similar interactions with women– forcible kissing and groping, he consistently claims that the women who accuse him of sexual assault are lying for money or fame. Carroll, he claims, is not “his type,” and lawyers for Trump say that the fact that Dorris was photographed near him at other events that week and sat next to him at a memorial service for Gianni Versace somehow makes her claims “incredible.”
Given the fact that so many women who do not know one another have stories so similar, these women’s claims are not incredible; they seem highly likely. Their claims are so credible that the U.S. Justice Department is seeking to replace Trump’s lawyers to defend the president in a defamation case brought by Carroll in response to Trump’s denial of the rape. The move appears to show an administration attempting to intimidate a victim by throwing the full weight of the U.S. government behind a president to get one woman to stop suing him before the election.
For her part, Dorris says that she decided to come forward with her allegations now because she wants her teenage daughters to know that Trump’s behavior was not acceptable:
“I’m sick of him getting away with this,” she said. “I’m tired of being quiet. It’s kind of cathartic. I just want to get this out. And I want people to know that this is the man, this is our president. This is the kind of thing he does and it’s unacceptable.”
Hopefully, Carroll’s lawsuit will force some sort of broader reckoning, and perhaps these headline-grabbing stories, with six weeks to go until the 2020 presidential election will have some impact on voters. But in the court of voter opinion, one allegation against Donald Trump didn’t seem to make a difference last time, nor did two or 25. Thus far, Donald Trump’s behavior has been judged not only acceptable but presidential.