Rachel Crooks, one of the women who have accused Donald Trump of unwanted physical contact in The New York Times, was featured in a lengthy Washington Post profile that sparked an angry Twitter response from President Donald Trump.
Crooks told the Times last year that, in 2005, when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a company in Trump Tower, Trump forcefully kissed her without her consent during an encounter in an elevator. Crooks is now running for a position in the Ohio Legislature. Further news coverage of her in the Post caused Trump to say on Twitter on February 20, “A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened!”
Crooks responded to Trump on Twitter: “Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006. Let’s clear this up for everyone. It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself.”
Crooks told CNN in a previous interview that she feels like she has been forgotten amid the #MeToo moment in which several prominent men have faced allegations of sexual assault and harassment from women.
Crooks has made the rounds of media interviews. Crooks, along with two other Donald Trump accusers, was also interviewed by Megyn Kelly on December 11. In a press conference before the interview, accompanied by the other women, Crooks called what happened to her “serial misconduct and perversion by Mr. Trump,” calling him an “offender” who is now president. She said that Trump has “escaped” his conduct and should have entered “the graveyard of political aspirations never to return and yet here we have this man as president.” She called for Trump to be held to the “same standard as Harvey Weinstein,” and asked for Congress to investigate the president’s history “of misconduct.”
“I think it’s been great, I’m so thankful that other women have the courage to come forward, but yes, I do feel forgotten,” Crooks told CNN. “You can’t help but wonder why people aren’t talking about Trump and the people that came forward for him. And why is he immune to this?”
Crooks, who spoke out in October 2016 ahead of Trump’s election victory, is coordinator of international student services at a university in Ohio. The Trump campaign issued a strongly worded denial after the article’s publication, calling it “fiction,” and Trump himself personally denied the allegations to the newspaper. Neither woman reported the allegations to authorities, although they confided in others close to them, says The Times.
The allegations came just weeks before the election and as Trump attempts to regain lost momentum following the exposure of the Billy Bush tapes, which captured Trump saying, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…Grab ’em by the p***y. You can do anything.”
Crooks told CNN about the tape and the accusations against Trump, “I thought people would take it seriously. I mean, being the president of the United States is such a highly regarded position, you want someone, I think, of good character. And this is obviously evidence not of that. He certainly has some flaws, and I thought people would — I don’t know — take that into account at the polls… I think it’s just evidence of sort of the political atmosphere these days, we’re forgotten by politicians who think it’s more convenient to keep Trump in office, you know, have him just sweeping his indiscretions under the rug.”
During the second presidential debate, Trump denied that he had ever touched women without their consent, and he attempted to shift attention to the pattern of women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Crooks Has Worked in Various Capacities for Ohio Universities
The Times says that Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist in 2005 working for The Bayrock Group, “a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower” when the alleged incident occurred. The Times alleges that Crooks says she introduced herself to Trump outside an elevator, and Trump kissed her “directly on the mouth,” which she considers “so inappropriate.”
According to Crooks’ LinkedIn page, she was an “Office Assistant” for Bayrock Group, LLC “from June 2005 – June 2006.” It’s listed as her first job on her LinkedIn page.
Crooks is presently Coordinator of International Student Services at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio, a position she has held since August 2016. Before that time, she worked in various capacities at Tiffin University in Ohio.
She was director of International Student Services for 5 years and one month, assistant director of International Enrollment Management for nine months, director of Transfer and Adult Students for four months, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions for three years and two months, and Graduate Admissions Representative for 1 year and 2 months.
At Tiffin, she was involved in organizing an international dinner focused on the Chinese year of the dragon. She was quoted by the university website as saying, “The value of the International Dinner cannot be overstated. This is our chance as a University to share the cultures of our diverse international student body with members of the TU family and the greater Tiffin community.”
Tiffin University described her role by saying, “Ms. Crooks advises international students on their F-1 visa regulations, as well as develops programming to promote cultural exchange opportunities on the Tiffin campus. Ms. Crooks also serves as the U.S. liaison for Tiffin University campuses located in Bucharest, Romania, Taipei, Taiwan, and Prague, Czech Republic.”
2. Crooks Was a Campaign Contributor & Supporter of Hillary Clinton & Likes a Site on Facebook Called ‘Liberals in America’
The New York Times says Crooks (and Jessica Leeds, the second accuser in the story) both “support Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and Ms. Crooks has made contributions of less than $200 to President Obama and Mrs. Clinton.”
Trump’s statement responding to the Times article included this paragraph, “Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack. This is a sad day for the Times.”
It was not immediately clear which social media activity the Trump statement was referring to; a Twitter page for a Rachel Crooks from Ohio has privatized its Tweets (the site is followed by Brianne Webb, who was named in the Times as Crooks’ sister. The article says Crooks had allegedly confided in Webb about the Trump incident). The Google cache from that Twitter page does have some political Tweets, but you can’t read the full content because of the privatization. Examples:
On Facebook, Crooks has liked a site called Liberals in America. Its cover picture is a photo of Barack Obama with the phrase, “Being a Liberal Doesn’t Make You Intelligent. It Is Being Intelligent That Makes You a Liberal.” A sample post from that site:
The site contains harsh criticism of Donald Trump. Crooks’ own posts on her page are not public.
Her other likes include the documentary Godless, which is a film about being an atheist, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
3. Crooks Attended Syracuse University & Played Volleyball There
Crooks has a master’s degree in the Humanities from Tiffin University, as well as a bachelor of arts in Law and Society, and also lists hospitality management for Syracuse University under education, according to her LinkedIn page. At Syracuse, she was a member of the Varsity Volleyball team and a scholar/athlete. She graduated from Clyde High School.
The News Messenger reports that “She was a volleyball and basketball star at Clyde High School, named to the first-team All-Ohio in both sports. She received a full athletic scholarship to play volleyball at Syracuse University.”
CNN says that Crooks reached out to the Times after reading another story on Trump and adds that campaign sources say the Trump campaign is drafting a lawsuit against the Times and Palm Beach Post, which posted another woman’s account.
The Trump campaign has fired back with an adamant denial of the two accounts in the Times. The statement says:
This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous. To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.
It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all.
Hillary’s communications director released a statement saying, “This disturbing story sadly fits everything we know about the way Donald Trump has treated women. These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words.”
The Times claimed that Trump himself shouted that “none of this ever took place” to the Times and called the reporter a “disgusting human being.”
4. Two Other Women Also Accused Trump of Unwanted Contact in the Times Report
Crooks’ account is accompanied by the story of Jessica Leeds, who also accuses Trump of unwanted contact in the Times’ article, which the Trump campaign and Trump also adamantly deny.
According to The New York Times, Leeds contends that she encountered Trump on an airplane more than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman, and he lifted her armrest up and began to grab her without her consent. They did not know each other before this, says the Times.
The Associated Press says, “A few hours later, the Palm Beach Post reported that a third woman (Mindy McGillivray) said Trump groped her rear end at his Mar-a-Lago resort.”
5. Trump Brought Sexual Assault Allegations Against Former President Bill Clinton Into the Campaign After Women Accused Him
Trump made sexual assault allegations a centerpiece of his recent attacks against Hillary Clinton after the Access Hollywood tape and accusations were made against hinm.
Before the second presidential debate, he appeared in an extraordinary news conference with three women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual contact or attempted sexual contact: Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey. Also at the table: Kathy Shelton, who was 12-years-old when Hillary Clinton, as a young lawyer, represented the man accused of sexually assaulting Shelton.
Broaddrick accuses Hillary of trying to silence her in the wake of her allegations that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978 when he was the attorney general of Arkansas. Neither Broaddrick nor Willey reported their stories to authorities at the time but; as with Crooks (according to the Times), Broaddrick did tell others the account when it happened.
Bill Clinton ultimately paid $850,000 to settle Jones’ sexual harassment action against him. Bill Clinton has denied the Broaddrick allegations through his lawyer and denies Willey’s account that he allegedly groped her in the Oval Office.