Summer Zervos, a former contestant on President Donald Trump’s former reality TV show, “The Apprentice”, filed a lawsuit against him in January 2017 for sexual assault.
In a criminal complaint, Zervos said Trump had aggressively kissed her during a meeting in New York City in 2007, and again assaulted her on a separate occasion while touching her breast without consent. In addition to the sexual assault charges, Zervos is also suing for defamation due to Trump repeatedly labeling her a liar and making derogatory remarks about her character and the alleged sexual assault.
Zervos is not the only woman who has come forward with stories of Trump’s sexual misconduct. The list is terrifyingly long and includes Trump’s first wife Ivana, a former business partner of Trump’s and former Miss America contestants, among others.
In response to Zervos, Trump once again shocked the nation with his mastery of the English language, calling her and all of the other women, “liars. Horrible, horrible liars.”
“To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago,” Trump said. “That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14 of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
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Almost a year after his election, it is more than obvious that, contrary to his continual claims about not being “that person” who treats women as expendable objects there for his sexual enjoyment, Trump is a sexual predator who, because of the positions of power he has held throughout his lifetime, has time and time again gotten away with unreciprocated, illegal acts of sexual misconduct and assault.
Even now, as Zervos’ lawyers subpoena Trump’s campaign for all documents and communications pertaining to her case, as well as to the totality of women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, Trump is able to hide behind his bully pulpit and spit insults and deflections at his accusers, media and his base.
Because of his position of power, Trump is able to chastise his accusers for seeking fame or being politically motivated to press charges, and explain away his defamatory remarks by writing them off as “political opinions,”allowing Trump to shift the focus of the lawsuit back onto the victims of sexual assault, blaming them for lies, deceit and ultimately blaming them for being victims in the first place.
One can see this rhetoric time and again with Trump. He uses a female’s beauty to justify lewd remarks or unwanted sexual advances. He claims that, not only did he not sexually assault Zervos, any unwanted advances could’ve been a result of her incessant attempts to reach out to him.
The opposite is also true. During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly focused on a female’s appearance to denigrate and discredit her. For example, Trump verbally attacked MSNBC reporter Mika Brzezinski in June, calling her crazy and accused her of “bleeding badly from a facelift” instead of answering her questions he either did not want to, or could not answer.
Trump’s lawyers argue that, if the case is not dropped, which they believe it will be, that it should at least be stayed until he leaves office. This follows the extremely negative trend in this country of allowing rich, privileged men to get away with horrendous crimes against women simply because they hold the powerful upper-hand.
Agreeing to a stay would go against every single initiative to assuage the very real fears of sexual assault victims that there will not be justice for the crime committed against them because of who the assailant was, and will encourage women to stay silent about sexual assault at the hands of politicians, actors, businessmen and other influential members of the community so as to avoid defamation and humiliation.
Donald Trump is the president, but he is not exempt from being held to the same standards that others accused of sexual assault are held to. As the man in charge of running the country, why should he enjoy another three, potentially seven years in office without being tried for repeated crimes against multiple women?
The answer is he should not. The trial should proceed. Zervos and any other victims should be allowed to testify as to the assault they allegedly suffered at the hands of Trump, and the judicial system should be tasked with serving justice. Seven years is much too long to stand idly by and watch the man who sexually assaulted you continue wielding unparalleled power, and potentially continuing his assault on other female victims.
Aly Niehans ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in international studies and intending to major in journalism.