Some of the most disturbing accounts of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault by Donald Trump come from several Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants who claim Trump frequently walked in on them while they were in the dressing room. He has been accused of doing this no fewer than four times while he owned the Miss Universe Organization from 1996 to 2015. Trump openly admits walking in on pageant contestants in various stages of undress; he told Howard Stern in 2005 he had a right to do so because he owned the place.
One of the contestants who saw Trump walk in on them was Samantha Holvey, Miss North Carolina USA 2006. She was one of three Trump accusers who appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” last week to call for an investigation into Trump’s debauchery. In case you missed it, watch here.
Holvey recalled how she and other contestants met Trump in person at Trump Tower for what she thought was a “meet and greet.” Instead, Holvey said, Trump looked her over “like I was just a piece of meat.” She felt like Trump only viewed her as an object there for his pleasure. She felt “very gross, very dirty,” but hoped it would be the last time she saw him.
But it wasn’t. On finals night, Trump walked backstage while Holvey and the other contestants were wearing nothing but robes, “eyeing us, looking at us up and down. The message was obvious–“he owns the place and he owns you.” When Kelly played the now-infamous 2005 clip, Holvey said that hearing it made her feel that “it wasn’t what I signed up for.”
Holvey first told her story in October 2016, but decided to refresh our memories with a fuller account earlier this week at NBC News’ op-ed vertical, NBC News Think. She recalled the meeting at Trump Tower, saying that it was an open secret that his favorites were assured of a spot in the top 15. But when she introduced herself, it was obvious that Trump “was more interested in what my body looked like than what I had to say.”
She recalled that when Trump “came waltzing into” the dressing room, his wife Melania was alongside him. She was “shocked” by what she saw as a blatant ‘violation of our personal space.” It’s hard to blame her. After all, he’d been dating Melania, a model, for more than a decade, and you would think he would have known by then how important the privacy of the dressing room is to models and pageant contestants. Apparently that didn’t matter; as Holvey saw it, Trump seemed like “he wanted to exert his dominance and power.” She was so shaken by the experience that she skipped the coronation party, instead hightailing it to her mom’s hotel room. Her friends and family who made the trip from Buies Creek, near Fayetteville, were stunned at Trump’s “audacity.”
Holvey told her story to anyone who would listen, but didn’t go public until Trump ran for president. When one of her friends shared a Facebook article about Trump’s interview with Stern, she merely said she could corroborate Trump’s comments based on her own personal experience. Within 24 hours, she had booked an interview on CNN.
Holvey was dumbfounded at Trump’s support among white women last fall. To her, it said the stories of Trump’s accusers “don’t seem to matter.” She admits feeling “conflicted” when the #MeToo movement ramped up, wondering how people in business and entertainment could be taken down while Trump remained standing.
“What message was that sending? You can’t work in Hollywood if you’re a sexual predator, but you can become the commander-in-chief.”
Holvey is one of several Trump accusers who are lobbying Congress to look into Trump’s behavior. She also took part in “16 Women and Donald Trump,” a documentary featuring several women who claim Trump harassed and molested them. Watch a clip here.
As a fellow North Carolinian, this has me shaking with anger. What message would it send if Trump isn’t held to account for this behavior?
For the sake of Holvey and others, someone needs to do something, and now.
(featured image courtesy CBS News via ABC News)