9th accuser: ‘Grabbed me and went for the lips’
On 7 October, as the political world convulsed from the revelation that Trump had bragged about kissing and groping women without their consent, Cathy Heller, 63, was sitting in her New York home fielding incredulous emails from a friend.
“I keep thinking about how he treated you,” her friend wrote, hours after showing Heller the tape. “Obviously not an isolated incident.”
It was a story Heller had told many friends and family members over the years, but is only now telling in public. Some 20 years ago, she claims, when she met Donald Trump for the first and only time, he grabbed her, went for a kiss, and grew angry with her as she twisted away. “Oh, come on,” she alleges that he barked, before holding her firmly in place and planting his lips on hers…
Their alleged encounter took place almost two decades ago – Heller believes the year was 1997 and she was at a Mother’s Day brunch – at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Heller, her husband, her three children and her in-laws were among dozens of families seated at big round tables in what she and a relative who spoke to the Guardian recall was an open lobby.
Trump made the rounds greeting members of his club. When he stopped at their table, Heller recalled, and her mother-in-law introduced her, she stood and extended her hand.
“He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she claimed.
Alarmed, she said she leaned backwards to avoid him and almost lost her balance. “And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.” She turned her head, she claims, and Trump planted a kiss on the side of her mouth. “He kept me there for a little too long,” Heller said. “And then he just walked away.”
“I was angry and shaken,” she continued. “He was pissed. He couldn’t believe a woman would pass up the opportunity.” She added that he seemed to feel “entitled” to kiss her.
The Guardian heard accounts that matched Heller’s from two other people: Susan Klein, the friend who was emailing with Heller, and a relative seated at the table with Heller that day. The relative, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation, recalled that Heller sat back down with a stunned look on her face.