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'Groped me, tried to kiss...': US woman recalls alleged Trump sex assault during civil rape trial

A woman has testified that former United States President Donald Trump molested her with what seemed like “40 zillion hands” on an airline flight in the late 1970s, years before writer E Jean Carroll said he sexually assaulted her at a Manhattan department store.

Donald Trump groped me tried to kiss US woman Jessica Leeds recalls alleged Trump sex assault gcw
First Published May 3, 2023, 9:37 AM IST

A woman told a New York civil trial on Tuesday that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her on a flight in the United States in the late 1970s. While testifying in the writer E. Jean Carroll's rape and defamation lawsuit against the ex-president, Jessica Leeds recounted the alleged attack.

Trump dismisses all allegations of sexual assault and has never been charged criminally for any of them. Leeds testified in federal court in Manhattan that Trump slid his hand up her skirt on a business class trip to New York in 1978 or 1979.

“There was no conversation. It was like out of the blue," said Leeds, now 81. “He was trying to kiss me, grabbing my breasts," she added.

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Leeds made the claim in an interview with the New York Times just weeks before Trump's victory to the presidency.

Several dozen women came forward in the run-up to the election, accusing Trump of sexual misconduct. Leeds made the claim public after Trump denied sexual assault charges during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.

Carroll's attorneys asked Leeds to testify in order to persuade the nine-person jury that Trump has participated in a history of sexual misconduct. Carroll, 79, has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a changing room at Manhattan's opulent Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s.

She also says that Trump defamed her by calling her "a complete con job" after she made the accusation public in 2019. Trump has consistently and vehemently refuted the claims.

The case is one of several legal challenges facing Trump as the 76-year-old Republican seeks a return to the White House in next year’s election.

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