Trump accuser Jessica Leeds says former president appeared to have ’40 million hands’ during assault

A woman who accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her on an airplane in the late 1970s told a Manhattan jury it appeared the former president had “40 billion hands.”

Jessica Leeds, 81, testified Tuesday on behalf of writer E Jean Carroll in her civil lawsuit alleging rape and defamation against Trump.

Ms. Leeds recalled being moved from the economy cabin to a first class aisle seat on the flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport in about 1979.

Mr. Trump had introduced himself and they had engaged in small talk before eating, he said.

“All of a sudden, Trump decided to kiss and grope me,” she said.

“There was no conversation. It was like out of the blue. It was like a fight. He was trying to kiss me, trying to pull me towards him,” she said.

“He was grabbing my breast. It was like she had 40 billion hands. It was like a duel between the two of us.”

Ms. Leeds, of North Carolina, said another passenger witnessed the alleged assault, but no one came to her aid.

When Mr. Trump tried to stick a hand up her skirt, she got up from her seat and returned to her seat in the economy, she said.

After the plane landed, Ms Leeds said she stayed on board until all passengers had disembarked to avoid seeing Trump again.

She later said she cut her hair short and avoided wearing clothes after the agonizing encounter “to try to remove as much attention from my femininity as possible.”

Jessica Leeds leaves federal court after testifying Tuesday in writer E Jean Carroll's lawsuit against Donald Trump.  (AP/Seth Wenig)

Jessica Leeds is leaving federal court after testifying Tuesday in writer E Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against Donald Trump. (AP/Seth Wenig)

Ms. Leeds testified that she met Mr. Trump again at a fundraising gala for the Humane Society of New York on Saks Fifth Avenue in 1981.

He was handing out table tickets and was excited to meet some of the famous guests in attendance, he told the judging panel.

“Everyone was dressed up,” she said.

Then, he said, Mr. Trump and his “very, very pregnant wife” Ivana approached the table.

“I looked at it and was like ‘boy, I remember you,'” she said. “I didn’t say anything. As I took the ticket from him, he said: ‘I remember you, you’re that asshole on the plane’.

Ms Leeds said it looked like “a bucket of cold water had been poured over my head”. She suddenly felt like she was completely alone, she gathered her things and went home.

She said she told no one about the alleged assault for nearly 40 years, until she became enraged while watching a presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in October 2016.

Wrote a letter to the New York Times describing what had happened and published his story before the presidential election.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Joe Tacopina asked why Ms Leeds had waited nearly 40 years before telling anyone about the alleged sexual assault.

He said he didn’t want to complain to his bosses about “the rigors of travel.”

“It was the late ’70s, women weren’t complaining about workplace situations,” she said.

“All the jobs I’ve had over the years have been in male-dominated fields, and the jokes were… often sexual in nature.”

And Jean Carroll arrives in court Tuesday after testifying for three days in her rape and defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump.  (Associated Press)

And Jean Carroll arrives in court Tuesday after testifying for three days in her rape and defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump. (Associated Press)

After her testimony, Ms. Leeds said The independent outside the courthouse: “I’m exhausted, I’m over it all, and I hope I never have to tell my story again.”

In a separate prepared statement to the media outside Federal Court in Moynihan, Ms Leeds, 81, said Ms Carroll’s rape allegation against the former president “rings true to me”.

Ms Leeds also encouraged anyone who has been sexually assaulted to ‘know they are not alone and they can speak up’.

“We’ve seen how society and perpetrators don’t get the message of how harmful assault is until it becomes apparent,” he said.

“Go ask your mothers, your wives, your sisters, your daughters and your sons.”

Ms. Carroll is suing the former president in civil court for libel and battery after claiming she was a “con artist”. Mr. Trump, 76, has strongly denied the meeting ever took place.

On Tuesday, Ms. Carroll’s close friend Lisa Birnbach testified that the writer had called her immediately after the alleged sexual assault at Bergdorf Goodman in 1996.

Ms. Birnbach claimed the writer hyperventilated as she told her about the encounter, the Associated Press reported.

He said he had urged Ms Carroll to report the incident to police, but she refused and they agreed never to talk about it again.

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