Three women have accused Gordon Sondland, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, of sexual misconduct in the years before he was nominated to serve as the ambassador to the European Union.
Nicole Vogel, Jana Solis, and Natalie Sept all recalled their experiences in on-the-record interviews with ProPublica and Portland Monthly.
Vogel said Sondland attempted to kiss her, then later backtracked on his interest in investing in her business when she pulled away.
She claimed Sondland agreed to invest in her magazine project over dinner in 2003, before he suggested that she see one of the rooms at Hotel Lucia—an establishment he owned through the Provenance Hotel Group. Sondland allegedly asked Vogel for a hug inside the hotel room, then grabbed her face to kiss her, at which point she rebuffed his advances.
Vogel said she agreed to another dinner with Sondland, and that time he allegedly placed his hand on her thigh during the drive back from the restaurant. Vogel said she placed her hand over his to stop him from moving his hand further up her leg. Sondland later notified her via e-mail that he could not “participate” in her project, she alleged.
Solis—who was hired by Sondland to conduct safety inspections and training for his hotels—claimed the Portland hotelier exposed himself and shoved “his tongue down (her) throat” during a 2008 business interaction.
She said that in 2008, Sondland asked her to come visit his home to do “art valuations,” and at one point during the visit, emerged naked from the waist down. Solis said she remembered apologizing to him in order to maneuver out of the situation.
Months later, after Solis’ last training sessions with hotel staff, she was invited to Sondland’s penthouse apartment in Hotel Theodore. He invited her to sit on the couch, and then allegedly proceeded to kiss her and get on top of her. She said she fell over the couch trying to get away from him.
“The next thing I know, he’s all over me,” she told the outlet. “He’s on top of me. He’s kissing me, shoving his tongue down my throat. And I’m trying to wiggle out from under him, and the next thing you know, I’m sort of rising up to get away from him, and I fall over the back of the couch.”
After she rejected his advances, he chewed her out over an insurance issue that wasn’t really related to her job, she said.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t about insurance. He was pissed. He didn’t get his way [with me], and he was making it about work,” Solis told the outlet. “And he was making it all my fault.”
That was the last time she spoke to him, she said.
The third woman, Sept, claimed she agreed to dinner and cocktails with Sondland in 2010 under the assumption that they would discuss a potential job for her.
However, Sept tried to leave the cocktail bar early when she sensed Sondland wanted to get physically close to her. While Sondland walked her to her car, he allegedly grabbed her shoulders and attempted to kiss her. After shoving him aside and speeding away from him in her car, she said Sondland never contacted her again about the job.
Sondland and his lawyer denied any sexual misconduct, with the ambassador claiming the allegations were “concocted” and “coordinated for political purposes.”
“They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them,” he said in a statement.
Sondland’s lawyer, Jim McDermott, wrote in a letter that the three women “pursued Ambassador Sondland for financial and personal gain” and said their claims are now coming out to “affect Ambassador Sondland’s credibility as a fact witness in the pending impeachment inquiry.”
“Given the politically charged climate in which current events are unfolding, some might consider this to be veiled witness tampering,” McDermott said.