With six days to go before the election, attorney Lisa Bloom announced a woman was going to come forward to accuse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of rape. In a press conference from Bloom’s office, to be broadcast on Facebook Live, Katie Johnson (which may or may not be a pseudonym) would appear in public for the first time to allege that Trump had raped her in 1994 when she was 13 years old, and sexually assaulted her on other occasions while attending sex parties at the New York City mansion of pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
And then she didn’t.
“Jane Doe has received numerous threats today… She has decided she is too afraid to show her face,” Bloom said, according to MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon. “We’re going to have to reschedule. I apologize to all of you who came. I have nothing further.”
Katie’s press conference and sudden cancellation is just the most recent turn in a bizarre case that started in April of this year, when Katie filed a civil lawsuit in California accusing Trump of rape. As a reporter covering Katie’s case, I wasn’t surprised at Katie’s no-show. Through lawyers and handlers, I have been promised interviews on several occasions—meetings and phone calls that have been ultimately withdrawn, usually at the last minute.
Unlike more than a dozen women who have come forward to allege nonconsensual groping, kissing, or otherwise inappropriate sexual contact by Trump, Katie’s allegations are by miles the most explosive and the only claims also being made in a court of law. The first hearing in Katie’s lawsuit is scheduled for Dec. 16 in Manhattan federal court.
“The allegations are not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated,” Trump told RadarOnline after Katie filed her original lawsuit. “There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. Period.”
Trump did not respond to a request for comment on Katie’s press conference.
The complaint accuses Trump and Epstein of “rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress, duress, false imprisonment, and threats of death and/or serious bodily injury.”
The lawsuit also includes sworn statements by two witnesses. A woman with the pseudonym Tiffany Doe claims she helped procure underage women, including Katie, for Epstein’s sex parties and allegedly witnessed Katie’s rape firsthand. Another woman, known by Joan Doe, was a classmate of Katie’s who says she was told about the rape at school.
Katie initially filed the complaint without legal representation in California, where she resides. After that case was thrown out by a judge on procedural grounds and her allegations were reported by a few tabloids, New Jersey patent lawyer Thomas Meagher took her case on. Meagher has since been joined by James Cheney Mason, best known for his representation of Casey Anthony in 2011, and Evan Goldman, a personal-injury lawyer who practices in New Jersey. Bloom is not involved with Katie’s legal case.
When reached for comment on Bloom’s relationship to the case, Meagher told The Daily Beast, “[Bloom] is representing her at a minimum for the work she’s been doing over the last few days.”
Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred, who has held press conferences of her own with several women accusing Trump of inappropriate sexual contact, is also representing Jill Harth, a former business associate of Trump who alleges he sexually assaulted her on several occasions in the 1990s.
In June, Bloom published a column on The Huffington Post arguing the media had been irresponsible to ignore Katie’s lawsuit. Trump’s history of derogatory comments about women paired with two prior legal actions accusing the Republican nominee of sexual misconduct (one from Trump’s ex-wife Ivana, who claimed in a divorce deposition Trump had violently raped her, another from Jill Harth, whom Bloom now represents) made Katie’s allegations credible, Bloom claimed.
And Trump’s friendship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein has been well documented. Epstein was a member at Mar-a-Lago, and as gossip rags noted in the ’90s, Trump was often a guest at Epstein’s New York parties.
“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years,” Trump told New York magazine in 2002. Calling him a “terrific guy,” Trump said, “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Yet, despite the history and the lawsuit and even a tape of Katie detailing her allegations—which has been in the hands of various media agencies for months—most reporters have been hesitant to report on Katie’s claims. This caution is a result of a number of red flags: Katie’s anonymity, some explosive claims in the original lawsuit (which were taken out in subsequent filings), and the motley crew of politically and financially motivated handlers pushing Katie’s story.
The tape of Katie’s testimony, which has been reviewed by The Daily Beast, was at one time for sale for $1 million. The proceeds were, according to her supporters, going to be used for Katie’s security.
The questionable characters surrounding Katie—most notably “Al Taylor,” a lewd ex-producer of The Jerry Springer Show who was shopping the tape, and conservative mega-donor and email agitator Steve Baer, who provided thousands of dollars to move Katie into a new apartment, again for her safety—at one time was even too much for Bloom to bear. In one of hundreds of emails concerning Katie’s case circulated by Baer, Bloom wrote (to Baer, who then forwarded the email with responses to dozens of reporters), “I am not willing to get involved in the case, not now, not in the future, not ever, not pro bono, not for any amount of money. Because Steve and Al, you have destroyed it.”
But things change. And with today’s press conference, and Bloom’s representation, the media blackout on Katie’s case just might have ended. Instead, the reporters Bloom had criticized for failing to cover Katie’s case were sent home.