“He said this is just talk, but it’s not just talk,” now 63-year-old Cathy Heller said, “This was him.” She’s become the ninth woman this week to allege a sexual assault by Republican nominee Donald Trump. It happened right in front of three generations of the Heller family.
Cathy Heller was attending a Mother’s Day event in 1997 at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club in glitzy Palm Beach, Florida when Donald a Trump approached her. It went down just as the Republican nominee described his own behavior in the now-infamous Trump Tapes, he “just kissed” the New York resident, without waiting to strike. The Guardian reports:
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.
She’s the second accuser to name Mar-a-Lago as the scene of Trump’s unwanted sexual advances in just one week.
Donald Trump has not directly disavowed any of the actual incidents alleged, preferring blanket denials like, “That is not who I am,” and lobbing counter-accusations against the newly emboldened women across the country who are speaking out today waited until the worst time for his flailing presidential campaign to reveal his serial perverse behavior.
The sad reality is that lobbing accusations against the rich and powerful opens up the accuser to precisely the kind of reputation smearing and retaliation that we’ve seen from Republicans like Lou Dobbs who doxed one of Trump accusers to his massive online following by sharing a fake document purporting that she had the ‘same phone number as the Clinton Foundation’ (she doesn’t, not even close!) with her real contact information and address.
One of the first women to accuse Trump of sexual assault at Mar-a-Lago has reportedly fled the country to avoid retaliation. But Cathy Heller has multiple eye witnesses including her husband, children and in-laws to attest to Trump’s Mother’s Day grope. She’s been telling friends about the unwanted advance since the candidate declared his Republican primary campaign by accusing Mexicans of being rapists. The Guardian interviewed all of them, and documented the allegation in detail:
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.
It should be noted that Heller freely admits she is a Hilary Clinton donor, and that her husband’s family is involved in a lawsuit against the Mar-a-Lago club regarding dues refunds. However, she says that the assault pre-dates all of that, and she felt compelled to speak out after the events of this past week.
Cathy Heller’s sad story of being assaulted right in front of her family illustrates precisely how completely ignorant of social boundaries Trump’s wealth and privilege that makes him think it’s ok to pursue non-consensual physical contact with married women.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition