For all the women who have cheered as accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein force a public conversation about sexual misconduct, one small group of women has watched with frustration. They are some of the dozen women who publicly accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them — accusations that Trump has denied.
In a sharp contrast to the women who accused Weinstein, Trump’s accusers did not see the public turn against him, the board of his company fire him, or the police launch an investigation. Instead, these women watched the man they say humiliated and abused them get elected president of the United States.
“When he won, I felt like I lost,” said Melinda McGillivray, a Palm Springs resident who came forward in October last year to accuse Trump of groping her in 2003. She said she was assisting a photographer at a party at Mar-a-Lago when Trump came up and “grabbed my ass.” The photographer who was with her at the event, a Ray Charles concert, confirmed to the Palm Beach Post that she reported the alleged incident to him at the time.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story. But last year, as women were continuing to come forward, Trump tweeted a blanket denial: “Nothing ever happened with any of these women. Totally made up nonsense to steal the election. Nobody has more respect for women than me!”
McGillivray, who said she had to go into hiding because she got death threats and angry phone calls, said she thinks people may have taken the allegations against Weinstein more seriously because famous people were among those accusing the mogul. “We have women coming out that are celebrities and of course it gets more traction. They have more credibility than I do.”
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Temple Taggart (no relation to the reporter on this story), a former Miss Utah, was a 21-year-old pageant contestant when, she said, Trump repeatedly kissed her on the mouth without her permission. She was thrilled to see Weinstein fired, she said, but it reminded her of how “sad” she was that “they brushed it all under the rug” when it came to the accusations against Trump.
“That was so disappointing,” she said. After she spoke out, she said, she was pilloried on social media, with people accusing her of making up lies in order to swing the election. “It makes you realize why women don’t come forward,” she said.
Jessica Leeds, who is now 75, spoke out after watching Trump declare during the second presidential debate that he had never touched women sexually without their permission.
She said the president groped her in the early 1980s when she was seated next to him in the first-class section of a flight. Trump denied the allegation.
A longtime New Yorker, she said that on the streets, she has been greeted with joy and thanks for speaking out. Women have come up to her on the subway and even in the shower at the gym to thank her and extol her bravery. Every woman who came up to her, she said, had their own story of being sexually harassed.
Still, she said, she did face months of angry and abusive phone calls after Fox News anchor Lou Dobbs tweeted a Trump supporter’s post that had her phone number and address.
Despite it all, she’s glad she told her story but “truly sorry it didn’t have more impact,” she said. “I hoped it did, but it didn’t.”
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Jessica Garrison is a senior investigative editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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