The allegations about Donald Trump and Miss Teen USA contestants
During an Oct. 12, 2016, meeting with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., commented on one of the latest revelations, saying:
"I was just reading on the way over here this morning on how Trump would walk into the (Miss) Teen USA dressing room, all these 15- and 16-year-olds completely naked, just walk right in on them. Man, is that the image we want of the president of the United States? It’s just disturbing to think that he could get away with all this stuff."
So, did Trump "walk right in on" naked 15- and 16-year-old contestants in their dressing room?
The implication is that the alleged incident, back when the Republican nominee owned the pageant, wasn’t a mistake.
We're not going to rate this on our Truth-O-Meter, since some of the key sources are anonymous. But we'll lay out what we do know about the allegation.
The story began by stating:
Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.
"I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’ " said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA.
Trump, she recalled, said something like, "Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before."
Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it "shocking" and "creepy." The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump.
The story also reported:
Of the 11 (contestants) who said they don’t remember Trump coming into the changing room, some said it was possible that it happened while they weren’t in the room or that they didn’t notice. But most were dubious or dismissed the possibility out of hand.
Allison Bowman, former Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, cast doubt on whether it happened. "These were teenage girls," Bowman said. "If anything inappropriate had gone on, the gossip would have flown."
But there was also this:
Billado said she told Ivanka Trump (Trump’s daughter), about Donald Trump entering the room while the girls were changing their clothes. Billado remembers Ivanka answering, "Yeah, he does that."
Three days before Kind made his statement, CNN reported on comments Trump has made about women to radio talk show host Howard Stern over the years. In a 2005 interview, Trump talked about walking in on naked contestants -- but that was in response to a discussion about the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, whose contestants are adults. Trump said:
Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it. You know, I'm inspecting, I want to make sure that everything is good.
You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they're standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I've been very good.
Trump’s campaign didn’t respond to our requests for this item, but his campaign did issue this statement in response to the BuzzFeed story:
"These accusations have no merit and have already been disproven by many other individuals who were present. When you see questionable attacks like this magically put out there in the final month of a presidential campaign, you have to ask yourself what the political motivations are and why the media is pushing it."
There is not evidence, however, that the accusations have been disproved -- only that some of the contestants said they were not aware of the alleged incident, and some believed it could not have happened.
Kind says Trump "would walk right in on" naked Teen Miss USA contestants in their dressing room.
Four contestants in the 1997 pageant told BuzzFeed that Trump walked in on them and other contestants while they were changing clothes and made no attempt to leave. Three of them, however, were quoted anonymously.
Trump’s campaign has denied the allegations. But it has not provided evidence to back its own claim that the accusations were disproved.
Given the situation, we're not rating Kind's statement on the Truth-O-Meter.