Without eye witnesses and physical evidence most sexual assault cases boil down to a he said — she said situation once it can be confirmed the the opportunity for the assault existed.
As I write on MSNBC, A.J. Delgado is spinning out that former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff claimed it happened to friends but says she could have made it up. Of course, she’s probably pretending not to be conversant with the fact that in the majority of cases like this which end up being prosecuted, the testimony of contemporaneous accounts relating that the victim told people after the fact about the incident makes the difference between a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
Now PEOPLE has published the names and accounts from six people who lend credence to Stoynoff’s claims. There are of course two claims. One is that Trump forced himself on her and the other that she ran into Melania Trump on Fifth Avenue. Donald Trump has denied the first and Melania the second.
To refresh your memory, considering we have to sort one incident out from the others, here’s how Stoynoff describes what Trump did to her:
In her story, Stoynoff recalled taking a tour of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate before the incident took place. “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff, 51, described, adding that Trump also told her, “We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.” people.com/...
Five people are now recounting how Stoynoff talked to them shortly after the assault and described what happened to her former journalism professor, Paul McLaughlin. According to PEOPLE, he said she “called him in tears looking for advice the very night of the harrowing encounter. However, he cautioned her to remain quiet in fear of how Trump may retaliate.”
Here’s another example, this from a colleague at PEOPLE, Nancy Green:
“In an early conversation we had in her office, she told me about what happened with Donald Trump,” Green said. “She was shaky, sitting at her desk, relaying that, ‘He took me to this other room, and when we stepped inside, he pushed me against a wall and stuck his tongue down my throat. Melania was upstairs and could have walked in at any time.’
“She talked about her shock, and wondered why it had happened, if she had done anything wrong. I assured her she hadn’t. She was also angry that he had forced himself on her, that she was glad someone had interrupted him, because he was surprisingly strong.”
The other part of this story is relatively insignificant in and of itself. But it speaks to the issue of the veracity of Stoynoff and Melania Trump.
Stoynoff describes meeting Melania later year: “I actually bumped into Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron. ‘Natasha, why don’t we see you anymore?’ she asked, giving me a hug.”
In her account of the assault she also mentioned how she ran into Melania Trump on Fifth Avenue in New York. Melania denied this ever happened, and says she never knew Stoynoff. In this case there was an eye witness, her good friend Lisa Hertz, who members being there during the accidental encounter:
“They chatted in a friendly way,” Herz, who met Stoynoff in college, says. “And what struck me most was that Melania was carrying a child and wearing heels.”
What all this distills down to is a strong confirmation that at least one allegation of Trump’s assaulting women meets the criteria used in cases that actually come to trial that often result in convictions. If one is true, it suggests the all of them are true because they are so similar to each other, and to the behaviors Trump has bragged about.
Addendum: Who could have predicted that PEOPLE would become a major player in this election? For that matter, who would have predicted that Access Hollywood and The Howard Stern Show would figure in a major scandal.?
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