Another woman came forward Thursday to accuse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of inappropriate physical contact, alleging that Trump unexpectedly put his arm around her and touched her breast at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1998.
Karena Virginia, who was 27 at the time, said she had attended a match with a group of doctors while working as a pharmaceutical representative. Her companions had left, and she was waiting alone outside the tennis complex to be picked up by a car service when she encountered Trump. She had never met the celebrity businessman but said he immediately started making comments about her appearance to a group of men.
“Look at her legs, ” she recalled him saying before approaching her, wrapping his arm around her and then reaching down to her breast. “Don’t you know who I am?” she said he asked. She said the encounter ended moments later when her car arrived.
Virginia, now 45 and a yoga instructor, made her allegations at a news conference in New York with women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, a prominent supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Virginia said she decided to speak out publicly in support of other accusers after watching Trump dismiss their claims as “lies” and “fiction.”
Virginia had given an interview about her experience to The Washington Post earlier in the week but on Wednesday canceled an on-camera interview scheduled Thursday morning, without explanation.
Virginia’s husband, New York lawyer Charles Virginia, told The Post that his wife had confided in him about the experience when they met, about a year after it occurred. She told him about encountering Trump and “that she had been touched inappropriately and that she had been cowed by it, ” he said.
Karena Virginia had said she would provide The Post with the names of other people she had told about the incident at the time but did not do so.
Allred told reporters that Virginia told her husband and “some friends” about Trump’s behavior, but she did not name them.
A Trump campaign spokeswoman, Jessica Ditto, dismissed Virginia’s allegations. “Voters are tired of these circuslike antics and reject these fictional stories and the clear efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton, ” Ditto said, describing Allred as a “discredited political operative.”
Virginia is the 10th woman to speak publicly, accusing the Republican candidate of inappropriate sexual advances since the disclosure by The Post of a 2005 video in which he bragged that his celebrity gave him the ability to grab women “by the p—y. You can do anything.”
Trump has called the allegations “100 percent fabricated and made-up charges, ” attacking some accusers for their appearance and alleging that the media are conspiring with Clinton to “poison the minds of the American voter.”
In Wednesday night’s debate, Trump said that either Clinton was orchestrating the series of allegations or the women were seeking “their 10 minutes of fame.”
Trump has also argued that his “locker room talk” is “just words, ” as compared with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who engaged in an affair with a White House intern and has faced a string of other allegations of improper sexual conduct. Trump invited some of Bill Clinton’s accusers to the second presidential debate, and on Wednesday brought as a guest Leslie Millwee, who told the conservative Breitbart news website that she had been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton in 1980. Clinton lawyer David Kendall declined to comment on the allegation.
The Post first contacted Virginia last week after she mentioned her experience in a Facebook posting spotted by a Post reporter’s relative who had attended college with Virginia.
Virginia had told The Post she was reluctant to speak publicly about her experience, comments she reiterated by Allred’s side Thursday. “No one has asked me to come forward, ” she said.
Allred said that Virginia contacted her. The lawyer has said she has received multiple phone calls from women who say Trump assaulted them. She held a news conference with another Trump accuser last week, a former contestant on the television show “The Apprentice” who said Trump aggressively kissed and groped her during a job meeting in 2007.
Virginia describes herself as a spiritual teacher. She writes an occasional yoga column for the liberal Huffington Post, including one column that described her 2014 experiences appearing as a spiritual counselor on an episode of the reality television show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
She hosts her own website, in which she describes herself as a “TV personality” and indicates that she has written a book about yoga coming out in January.
She also acknowledged to The Post that her husband had been angry at Trump after Trump bought the golf course community where their Colts Neck, New Jersey, home was located in 2008 and planted trees on their property line. She and her husband sold the house and moved to another New Jersey community in 2012.
Still, she denied that either the potential to publicize her book or the chance to get back at Trump for the property issue motivated her decision to speak out. Virginia is registered to vote as “unaffiliated, ” according to New Jersey records.
“It’s about making the world a better place, ” she said.
Virginia said the U.S. Open incident left a mark on her.
“It took me years to get over this experience, ” she told The Post. “I’m tall, and I was wearing high heels at the U.S. Open, and I was wearing a miniskirt. After that experience happened, I didn’t wear high heels or a miniskirt for a few years. I started wearing skirts that went down to my knees.”