The morning after Donald Trump dismissed allegations from a host of women claiming he forced himself on them as “lies and fiction,” high-power women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred held a press conference with yet another accuser.
Karena Virginia, a yoga instructor and inspirational speaker, testified to the press at the London Hotel in Manhattan that Trump placed his hands on her arm and breast in 1998 outside the Billie Jean National Tennis Center in Queens. The then-27-year-old said the celebrity businessman first commented on her legs to group of men while she awaited a livery car to take her home from the U.S. Open—then approached and touched her.
“I was in shock. I flinched. ‘Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know who I am?’ is what he said to me,” Virginia said, her story interrupted with occasional sobs. “I felt intimidated and I felt powerless.”
Virginia said the encounter haunted her for more than a decade afterward, but that the 2005 video that leaked earlier this month—in which Trump described groping women without consent—and his subsequent denials he had ever actually engaged in such behavior, inspired her to approach Allred.
“I now understand that I was not to blame. Mr. Trump, perhaps you do not remember me, or what you did to me, so many years ago. But I can assure you I remember you, and what you did to me,” she continued. “Mr. Trump revealed his true character in his own words on a tape, which indicated he felt entitled to grab women by their private parts. We should, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, ‘believe him.'”
Allred, a two-time Democratic Party delegate for Hillary Clinton, is already representing another of Trump’s accusers. But she denied today having any contact with the Democratic nominee’s campaign regarding Virginia’s case, disputing the GOP candidate’s assertion last night that the proliferating misconduct claims against him are a mere political ploy.
Allred admitted, however, that Virginia had contacted her days ago and that they had waited until after the final presidential debate to make the claims public.
“I have my own law firm. No one tells me what to do, I tell them what to do,” said the civil rights lawyer, who took most of the questions for Virginia today. “Mr. Trump, the fact that you are a celebrity does not give you license to violate women.”
Virginia is not at present filing any kind of suit against Trump, Allred said.
At today presser, Virginia described herself as a resident of “the tri-state area.” Her business website states she resides with her husband (who attended but did not speak at the press conference) and children “in the suburbs of New York City.” It also features testimonials from celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Al Pacino.
“I believe in the divine. I believe in god. I believe if you can’t see god in all, you can’t see god at all. I believe that we are in a time of crisis, and there is an awakening taking place,” Virginia said. “And I believe that we’re all needed to find inner peace within ourselves at this time.”
“And this is the way you’re finding your inner peace,” Allred said, a sentiment Virginia quickly echoed.
The Trump campaign lashed out at Allred, though not Virginia, in a statement to the press—asserting once again that the allegations originated with the Democratic ticket.
“Discredited political operative Gloria Allred, in another coordinated, publicity seeking attack with the Clinton campaign, will stop at nothing to smear Mr. Trump,” said deputy communications director Jessica Ditto. “Give me a break. Voters are tired of these circus-like antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton.”
Updated to include comment from the Trump campaign.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.