A woman who has filed federal lawsuits accusing Donald Trump of repeatedly raping her two decades ago, when she was 13, abruptly canceled a news conference Wednesday where she was to detail her extraordinary claims against the GOP presidential nominee.
In the most recent suit, Trump’s accuser asserts that while she was exploring a modeling career in 1994, she attended a series of parties at the Manhattan home of prominent investor Jeffrey Epstein. She alleges that during those parties the real estate mogul raped her on several occasions, including one instance in which she says Trump tied her to a bed.
Attorney and legal commentator Lisa Bloom announced earlier Wednesday that the woman would appear at Bloom’s Woodland Hills law office at 3 p.m. local time and apparently give up the “Jane Doe” pseudonym used in her recent suits.
However, at the appointed hour, Bloom said the news conference was off.
“Jane Doe has received numerous threats today,” Bloom told the assembled journalists and TV cameras. “She has decided she is too afraid to show her face… She is in terrible fear.”
Bloom apologized to the press corps, but declined to answer any shouted questions including one asking if she’d been in touch with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Through his attorney, Trump has flatly denied the anonymous woman’s allegations.
“It is categorically untrue. It is completely frivolous. It is baseless. It is irresponsible,” Trump attorney Alan Garten told POLITICO in September. “I won’t even discuss the merits because it gives it credibility that it doesn’t deserve.”
The woman making the claims is referred to as “Jane Doe” in the most recent court complaints filed in New York, but as “Katie Johnson” in a similar suit filed in California earlier this year.
“I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop, but he did not,” Jane Doe wrote in a formal declaration accompanying her recent suits. “Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted. … Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed.”
Doe names Trump and Epstein as defendants in the suits and says they knew she was well under 17 — the age of consent. “I understood that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew that I was 13 years old,” she wrote.
A lawyer for Epstein declined to the comment on the lawsuits.
Trump’s accuser also submitted declarations from two other women, both anonymous. One says she worked as a party planner for Epstein, was tasked with getting “attractive adolescent women to attend these parties” and “personally witnessed the Plaintiff being forced to perform various sexual acts with Donald J. Trump and Mr. Epstein.”
The other woman says she attended school with Trump’s accuser at the time and was told by her about being “subject to sexual contact by the Defendants at parties in New York City during the summer of 1994.”
About a decade ago, Epstein came under investigation by local and federal authorities near his Palm Beach, Florida, home over allegations that he solicited underage girls to have sex with him at that residence and another on an island he owned in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Epstein pleaded guilty in June 2008 to two state felony charges relating to prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. He served only 13 months before being released but was required to register as a sex offender.
Trump has publicly acknowledged that he knew Epstein and was aware of the investor’s interest in “younger” women.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine back in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
A Trump associate told POLITICO last year that Trump wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing by Epstein and that he and the billionaire investor were not particularly close.
“He was a member of one of Trump’s clubs where he would visit with women and business associates, but there was no formal relationship,”
the source close to Trump said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The potential political implications of the allegations are complicated for Hillary Clinton because her husband, former President Bill Clinton, also had significant ties to Epstein. After leaving office in 2001, Bill Clinton took celebrities on Epstein’s 727 for a trip to Africa to look at Clinton Foundation anti-AIDS work.
Bill Clinton reportedly took more than two dozen flights on Epstein-owned planes, according to flight logs. In addition, during Epstein’s plea negotiations in 2007, lawyers for the financier claimed he helped found the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the Clinton Foundation’s key projects.
“Mr. Epstein was part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative,” attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Gerald Lefcourt wrote, in a letter obtained by Fox News.
Spokespeople for the former president and the Clinton Foundation did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Epstein connection.
In addition to the anonymity of the accuser and the supporting witnesses, some of the circumstances under which the story of the alleged rapes emerged earlier this year have led to questions about its credibility. News reports have said that a man who formerly served as a producer for tabloid talk-show host Jerry Springer was offering an interview with the alleged victim in exchange for money.
The first suit over the alleged rapes was filed in federal court in Riverside, California, in April by someone acting without an attorney and using the name “Katie Johnson.” That suit named both Trump and Epstein as defendants, alleging that the two men held Johnson as a “sex slave” and repeatedly forced her to engage in sexual acts against her will.
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed the case in May, ruling that Johnson’s complaint didn’t raise valid claims under federal law. Gee, an appointee of President Barack Obama, noted that the suit cited a criminal statute that doesn’t give rise to civil damages and that the civil statute Johnson cited only applies to actions based on “race-based or class-based animus.”
Subsequent news reports raised doubts about who filed the suit. Johnson claimed she had just $300 in assets and that she was living at a home in Twentynine Palms, California, but Radar Online reported neighbors said the home had been foreclosed upon and vacant since its owner died last year.
A new suit was filed in New York in June, seeking to proceed against Trump and Epstein under the Jane Doe pseudonym. The case was brought by a New Jersey-based attorney, Tom Meagher.
However, the suit was withdrawn Sept. 16 after the plaintiff apparently failed to serve the complaint on Trump or Epstein.
Another complaint was filed in federal court in Manhattan on Sept. 30. Several other lawyers have joined the case on Doe’s behalf, but there is still no indication that Trump or Epstein have been formally served with the suit.