Three women say they faced sexual misconduct by Gordon Sondland before he was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.They say he retaliated against them professionally after they rejected his advances.
The claims came at the center of the presidential impeachment inquiry in which Sondland gave that testimony in favor of Trump.
The three women accusing Sondland of sexual misconduct all shared their names and allegations on the record with ProPublica.
One of Sondland’s accusers is Nicole Vogel, the owner of Portland Monthly, which co-published the report about the allegations against the ambassador. An editor’s note specifies that Vogel was not involved in editorial decisions about the piece.
Vogel said Sondland tried to forcibly kiss her when she was raising money to start the magazine in 2003. Sondland, who owns five hotels in Portland, Oregon, with his company Provenance Hotel Group, had already said he would invest in the magazine when he invited Vogel to see one of the rooms at his nearby property.
According to Vogel, she lavished praise on the rather mundane room and was turning to leave when Sondland asked for a hug. “And as I pulled back, he grabs my face and goes to kiss me,” Vogel said. “I said, ‘Ooh Gordon, you’re a married man, and you’d just break my heart.’”
Vogel then hurried to leave the hotel. A few weeks later, after another uncomfortable encounter in which Sondland put his hand on her thigh, he told Vogel he would not be investing in the magazine after all.
Meanwhile, a second woman, Jana Solis, has accused Sondland of exposing himself to her and forcibly kissing her when she was inspecting some of his properties and possessions in 2008.
And a third woman Natalie Sept, 27 years younger than Sondland, said she met him to discuss job opportunities in 2010 and he pushed himself against her and kissed her, so that she was obliged to shove him away, after which he cut off communication with her.
All three women have agreed to be named in this story. In all the cases, friends, family members or colleagues of the women recall being told about the encounters at the time. The cases span a seven-year period, ending less than a decade ago.
Sondland denies the allegations , saying, “These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes.”
Sondland’s lawyer, Jim McDermott, also wrote that the three women are trying to undermine Sondland’s latest testimony. “Given the timing of your intended story, a reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that you are attempting to affect Ambassador Sondland’s credibility as a fact witness in the pending impeachment inquiry,” McDermott wrote.