The following information was taken/borrowed directly from http://thememoryhole2.org/blog/doe-v-trump Russ at AltGov2.org [FOIA / anti-secrecy] Credit to Russ Kick. Russ files hundreds of FOIA requests then posts them online. He posts documents that the government takes down. He chases down hard to find documents that are only in paper form, he scans and posts them in his important quest to force transparency. Thank you, Russ! Please support his very important work by donating here http://altgov2.org/donate/
Update: On Nov 4, 2016, “Jane Doe” told her lawyers to withdraw her lawsuit. (Around this time, the Daily Mail of London became the only media outlet to get photos and a face-to-face interview with her.) There is currently no active lawsuit.
A woman whose identity is being protected has filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein (a convicted sex offender) accusing them of raping her in 1994, when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media have been almost unanimously silent about this.
The lawsuit has gone through three iterations: • the original suit, Katie Johnson v. Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein, filed in California in April 2016 • Jane Doe v. Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein, filed in New York in June 2016 • the second Jane Doe v. Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein, filed in New York at the end of September 2016
By posting these documents (retrieved through Pacer, a site run by the federal court system), we’re not commenting on the merits of the suit. The fact is that the process is in motion: the lawsuit has been filed, a prominent lawyer is representing Jane Doe, summonses have been issued, and US District Judge Ronnie Abrams has scheduled a pretrial conference of counsel for all parties.
Trump’s attorneys have vehemently denied the accusations of the previous lawsuits, and regarding the current one, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s campaign said the claims are “categorically false, frivolous, and sanctionable.”
Documents in the second Jane Doe v. Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein
13 – “Full docket text for document 13: ORDER granting  Motion for James Cheney Mason to Appear Pro Hac Vice (HEREBY ORDERED by Judge Ronnie Abrams)(Text Only Order) (Abrams, Ronnie)” Filed & Entered: 10/19/2016
Donald Trump has called Jeffrey Epstein, pedophile and sex trafficker, a “terrific guy” and “a lot of fun to be with.” Epstein has been invited multiple times to the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein’s personal address book, leaked in 2009, contained 14 phone numbers for Trump and members of his staff
For the better part of two decades starting in the late 1980s, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump swam in the same social pool. They were neighbors in Florida. They jetted from LaGuardia to Palm Beach together. They partied at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and dined at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
After Epstein’s arrest on sex trafficking charges, many who socialized with him — including Trump — were eager to have it known that they never much liked the man, or weren’t really friends, or barely even knew him.
Donald Trump once hosted a party with a guest list made up of just himself, Jeffrey Epstein, and “28 girls,” according to The New York Times, and ignored an organizer’s warning about Epstein’s conduct. The “calendar girl” event is reported to have taken place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in 1992. George Houraney, who ran American Dream Enterprise, claimed in an interview that he organized the event after a request from Trump. “I arranged to have some contestants fly in,” said Houraney. “At the very first party, I said, ‘Who’s coming tonight? I have 28 girls coming.’ It was him and Epstein.” Houraney added that he warned Trump about his friend’s conduct, recalling: “I said, ‘Look, Donald, I know Jeff really well, I can’t have him going after younger girls.’… He said, ‘Look I’m putting my name on this. I wouldn’t put my name on it and have a scandal.’”
The Times report also claims Epstein has told people since the election that he was the one who introduced the president to his third wife, first lady Melania Trump. The White House didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Epstein liked to tell people that he’s a loner, a man who’s never touched alcohol or drugs, and one whose nightlife is far from energetic. And yet if you talk to Donald Trump, a different Epstein emerges. “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump booms from a speakerphone. “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.”
In late April 2016, rumors began to circulate online holding that Republican presidential Donald Trump had either been sued over, or arrested for, raping a teenaged girl. One of the earliest versions of the rumor was published on 2 May 2016 by the Winning Democrats web site, which reported that woman using the name Katie Johnson had named Trump and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in a $100 million lawsuit, accusing them of having solicited sex acts from her at sex parties held at the Manhattan homes of Epstein and Trump back in 1994 (when Johnson was just 13 years old):
The first major scandal to hit the Trump campaign came from a lawsuit stemming from the infamous sex parties held by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The woman named in the suit is Katie Johnson, who says Trump took her virginity in 1994 when she was only 13 and being held by Epstein as a slave.
Johnson says in the complaint that Trump and Epstein threatened her and her family with bodily harm if she didn’t comply with all of their disgusting demands. A copy of the California lawsuit (filed on 26 April 2016) shared via the Scribd web site outlined the allegations, which included the accusation that Trump and Epstein had (over 20 years earlier) “sexually and physically” abused the then 13-year-old plaintiff and forced her “to engage in various perverted and depraved sex acts” — including being “forced to manually stimulate Defendant Trump with the use of her hand upon Defendant Trump’s erect penis until he reached sexual orgasm,” and being “forced to engage in an unnatural lesbian sex act with her fellow minor and sex slave, Maria Doe, age 12, for the sexual enjoyment of Defendant Trump” — after luring her to a “series of underage sex parties” by promising her “money and a modeling career”:
A federal lawsuit filed in New York accuses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl more than 20 years ago, at several Upper East Side parties hosted by convicted sex offender and notorious billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein.
The suit, first reported by the Real Deal, accuses Trump and Epstein of luring the anonymous plaintiff and other young women to four parties at Epstein’s so-called Wexner Mansion at 9 East 71st Street. Epstein allegedly lured the plaintiff, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, with promises of a modeling career and cash.
Another anonymous woman, identified in additional testimony as Tiffany Doe, corroborates Jane’s allegations, testifying that she met Epstein at Port Authority, where he hired her to recruit other young girls for his parties. Trump had known Epstein for seven years in 1994 when he attended the parties at Wexner, according to the suit. He also allegedly knew that the plaintiff was 13 years old.
Jane Doe filed a similar suit in California in April, under the name Katie Johnson, also accusing Trump and Epstein of rape. That suit was dismissed on the grounds of improper paperwork — the address affiliated with her name was found to be abandoned. Today’s suit confirms that the plaintiffs are one and the same.
The online outlet that first reported the second filing in New York explained that the lawsuit might be allowed to proceed even though the statute of limitations for bringing suit has expired, because (according to plaintiff’s lawyer) the plaintiff lacked the “freedom of will to institute suit earlier in time” due to her having been threatened by Trump:
It should be noted that anyone can file a civil complaint in federal court. The statute of limitations in New York for civil rape cases is five years, but [the] complaint argues that the time limit should be waived, noting that the plaintiff was too frightened to report the abuse because Trump had threatened that if she did “her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”
“Both defendants let plaintiff know that each was a very wealthy, powerful man and indicated that they had the power, ability and means to carry out their threats,” the complaint claims.
A copy of the New York-based suit was also uploaded to Scribd, and in the second filing (which asked for no specific amount of monetary damages) the plaintiff was represented by Thomas Francis Meagher, a New Jersey patent lawyer who learned of her allegations via an article published on the GossipExtra web site advertising that she was “shopping for an attorney.” In a statement attached to her filing, the plaintiff (aka “Jane Doe”) asserted:
I traveled by bus to New York City in June 1994 in the hope of starting a modeling career. I went to several modeling agencies but was told that I needed to put together a modeling portfolio before I would be considered. I then went to the Port Authority in New York City to start to make my way back home. There I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Tiffany. She told me about the parties and said that, if I would join her at the parties, I would be introduced to people who could get me into the modeling profession. Tiffany also told me I would be paid for attending.
The parties were held at a New York City residence that was being used by Defendant Jeffrey Epstein. Each of the parties had other minor females and a number of guests of Mr. Epstein, including Defendant Donald Trump at four of the parties I attended. I understood that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew I was 13 years old.
Defendant Trump had sexual contact with me at four different parties in the summer of 1994. On the fourth and fnial sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied me to a bed, exposed himself to me, and then proceeded to forcibly rape me. During the course of this savage sexual attack, I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but he did not. Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted,
Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I wold be physically harmed if not killed.
The filing also included a statement from “Tiffany Doe” (i.e., the woman referenced in plaintiff’s statement above who brought her to the parties) attesting that:
I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.
I personally witnessed the one occasion where Mr. Trump forced the Plaintiff and a 12-year-old female named Maria [to] perform oral sex on Mr. Trump and witnessed his physical abuse of both minors when they finished the act.
It was my job to personally witness and supervise encounters between the underage girls that Mr. Epstein hired and his guests.
A video reportedly featuring “Katie Johnson” (her identity hidden through the use of facial pixillation, a long blonde wig, and an electronic voice distorter) appeared online, in which she graphically described giving Donald Trump a hand job and being raped by him:
What Happened to the 20 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct
This post was originally published in November 2017. It has been updated with additional harassment claims and public statements from Trump’s accusers.
As more and more powerful public figures have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse over the past year and a half, there’s one person whose alleged sexual misconduct seems simultaneously ever present, and yet grossly overlooked.
Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo movement if Donald Trump had not been elected, despite being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017 some of Trump’s accusers said they were happy sexual harassment was finally being discussed more openly, while others were dismayed that their own stories seemed to have little impact.
A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, which is still winding its way through the courts, opened up the possibility that Trump’s accusers will get their day in court. Some of the women have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more willing to listen to their accounts. Meanwhile, new accusers have come forward. On Monday a staffer on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign filed a lawsuit claiming that he kissed her without her consent while they were on the campaign trail.
For now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning other men accused of sexual misconduct (if they’re Democrats).
Here’s a reminder of what behavior the president has been accused of, organized by when the alleged incident occurred. It includes, when available, an update on how the women have continued trying to make their stories heard.
Jessica Leeds (early 1980s)
The allegation: Leeds said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt when she was seated next to him in first class on a flight in the early 1980s. “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Afterward, she fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault,” she said.
After Leeds went public, Trump mocked her at a campaign rally, suggesting she wasn’t attractive enough to sexually harass. “Yeah, I’m gonna go after — believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” he said.
Since then: “It is hard to reconcile that Harvey Weinstein could be brought down with this, and [President] Trump just continues to be the Teflon Don,” Leeds told the Washington Post a year after she first came forward.
In December 2017, Leeds and several other Trump accusers held a press conference and appeared on Megyn Kelly Today. She recalled that she encountered Trump at a fundraising gala in New York three years after the airplane incident. “And he says, ‘I remember you, you were that [she does air quotes] woman from the airplane.’ He called me the worst name ever.” She confirmed to Kelly that the word was “cunt.”TODAY✔@TODAYshow
WATCH: “He called me the worst name ever.” Jessica Leeds recalls meeting Trump a few years after alleged groping incident on plane
Leeds also said she would be interested in providing a deposition in the Zervos defamation suit. “I would do it — I’m not afraid,” Leeds said.
Ivana Trump (1989)
The allegation: In her 1990 divorce deposition, Ivana Trump accused her soon-to-be ex-husband of raping her in a fit of rage the previous year. Harry Hurt III obtained the papers, and described Ivana’s account in his 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. According to Hurt, Ivana said her husband raped her after a doctor she recommended gave him an unexpectedly painful “scalp reduction” operation to eliminate a bald spot. Hurt said Ivana described her husband yanking out a handful of her hair, holding her hands back, and tearing her clothing.
“Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than 16 months. Ivana is terrified … It is a violent assault,” Hurt wrote. “According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘he raped me.’”
Kristin Anderson (early 1990s)
The allegation: Anderson claimed that while she was out at a New York club with friends in the early 1990s, someone slid his hand under her miniskirt and touched her vagina through her underwear. She turned around a recognized him as Donald Trump.
“It wasn’t a sexual come-on. I don’t know why he did it. It was like just to prove that he could do it and nothing would happen,” Anderson said. “There was zero conversation. We didn’t even really look at each other. It was very random, very nonchalant on his part.”
Since then: Anderson is mentioned in the Zervos lawsuit, but has not discussed her claim publicly since the election.
Jill Harth (1993)
The allegation: Harth claimed that Trump made repeated unwanted sexual advances as she and her romantic partner at the time, George Houraney, pursued a business relationship with the mogul in the early 1990s. She said that on January 24, 1993, at Mar-a-Lago, Trump offered her a tour of the estate, then pulled her into his daughter Ivanka’s empty bedroom.
“He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again,” Harth said, “and I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’ It was a shocking thing to have him do this because he knew I was with George, he knew they were in the next room. And how could he be doing this when I’m there for business?”
In 1997 Harth and Houraney sued Trump for breach of contract, and she filed a separate sexual-harassment suit, accusing him of “attempted rape.” They reached a confidential settlement in the contract suit, and as part of the agreement Harth withdrew her suit.
Since then: Harth repeatedly defended her attorney, Lisa Bloom, after she was criticized for guiding Weinstein through his disastrous response to his sexual-misconduct allegations. Bloom set up a GoFundMe for her client, which has only raised $2,582 of its $10,000 goal.
Harth tweeted about Trump several times, then said in October that she would stop discussing him online. Harth said she might write a book someday, as she felt the “press has distorted facts pitifully.”Jill Harth@jillharthReplying to @LisaBloom
Lisa Boyne (mid-1990s)
The allegation: Lisa Boyne said a mutual friend invited her to dinner with Trump in the mid-1990s. She claims she was picked up in Trump’s limousine, and during the ride he made disparaging comments about women he’d slept with or wanted to sleep with. Boyne said that during the dinner, several models were called over and instructed to walk over the table to Trump.
“As the women walked across the table, Donald Trump would look up under their skirt and comment on whether they had underwear or didn’t have underwear and what the view looked like,” Boyne said.
“It was the most offensive scene I’ve ever been a part of,” Boyne added. She said she claimed she wasn’t feeling well and left the restaurant.
Since then: In December 2017, Boyne joined a press conference with several other Trump accusers via speakerphone. “This isn’t how we should teach our boys to talk … It’s horrendous,” Boyne said, referring to the Access Hollywood tape. “[We should] demand that Donald Trump step down like Al Franken. Because what he’s acknowledged, what he’s made appropriate culturally is a thousand times worse than anything Al Franken has done.”
Boyne – along with fellow Trump accusers Rachel Crooks, Samantha Holvey, Jessica Leeds, Melinda McGillivray, Natasha Stoynoff, Temple Taggart, and Karena Virginia – put out a statement in September 2018 supporting the women accusing then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“Trump has dismissed our claims, lied about his conduct, and attacked us. Now he’s painting with the same brush to salvage the Kavanaugh nomination,” the statement said. “It’s a standard move from his playbook.”
Miss Teen USA Contestants (1997)
The allegation: Five women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA claimed Trump, who owned the pageant, walked in on them while they were changing.
“It was certainly the most inappropriate time to meet us all for the first time,” said Victoria Hughes, the former Miss New Mexico Teen USA. “The youngest girl was 15, and I was the eldest at 19.”
On The Howard Stern Show, Trump admitted to “inspecting” the contestants backstage. It wasn’t clear if he was referring to the Miss USA pageant, or the contest for teens.
“You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good,” he said. “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.”
Since then: In October 2017 Candace Smith, a former Miss Ohio USA, said Trump was in the dressing room when she competed in the 2003 Miss USA Pageant (not the teen pageant).
Can you ask @KellyannePolls why Trump was even in my dressing room at Miss USA? I’m just trying to under the purpose— Candace Smith (@TheCandaceSmith) October 11, 2017
Exactly! He would prey on the ones who lost so he could promise them help with their careers. I know girls he flew to NY to stay at Trump— Candace Smith (@TheCandaceSmith) October 12, 2017
Temple Taggart McDowell (1997)
The allegation: McDowell, who represented Utah as a 21-year-old in the 1997 Miss USA pageant, said Trump immediately kissed her when they were introduced during a rehearsal. “He kissed me directly on the lips,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”
Since then: Taggart and three other Trump accusers — Summer Zervos, Jessica Drake, and Rachel Crooks — held a press conference in D.C. just before they protested in the Women’s March on Washington in 2017. “I want my children to see that I am willing to face my fears head on, with the hope that I might not only bring about a positive change in others, but also instill in them a similar strength,” Taggart said.
Cathy Heller (1997)
The allegation: Heller says she received an unwanted kiss from Trump when they were introduced at a Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-a-Lago. The incident occurred in front of her family. The Guardianreported:
“He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she claimed.
Alarmed, she said she leaned backwards to avoid him and almost lost her balance. “And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.” She turned her head, she claims, and Trump planted a kiss on the side of her mouth. “He kept me there for a little too long,” Heller said. “And then he just walked away.”
Since then: Heller attended the Women’s March on Washington on the day after Trump’s inauguration, rallying 43 people to reserve an entire train car from New York. “I like to think I’d be at a march in Washington, or at least locally in New York, even if it hadn’t happened to me,” she said.
Today she’s dismayed that despite all the sexual-harassment claims against Trump, “nothing stuck.” She told the Washington Post in October 2017 that she thinks things might have been different for Weinstein because his accusers were famous.
“A lot of them were actresses we’ve all heard of,” Heller said. “When it’s a celebrity, it has more weight than just someone who he met at Mar-a-Lago or a beauty-pageant contestant. They’re not people we’ve heard of. And that, in our society, has much more weight because they’re famous.”
Karena Virginia (1998)
The allegation: Virginia said she encountered Trump while she was waiting for a car service to pick her up from the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens. She overheard him making comments about her to other men. “He said, ‘Hey, look at this one, we haven’t seen her before. Look at those legs.’ As though I was an object, rather than a person,” she said.
“He then walked up to me and reached his right arm and grabbed my right arm, then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I was in shock. I flinched,” she continued.
Trump then asked her, “Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know who I am?” she said.
Virginia, who co-signed the statement supporting Kavanaugh’s accusers, was profiled by the New Yorker in November 2018. She told the magazine that she received death threats after coming forward, and still felt guilty about how people interpreted her tears during her press conference.
“People told me, ‘Don’t you understand that there are women out there who are raped?’ ” she said. “But that was exactly why I was crying! I wasn’t crying because some man touched my breast. I was crying because I could feel the weight of this sadness and silence eating away at women all over the country. I was crying because this world is so full of dysfunction, because millions of women and men have lived in shame because of things other people did to them. I cried because I was thinking about them.”
Mindy McGillivray (2003)
The allegation: McGillivray said she was assisting photographer Ken Davidoff, who was taking photos during a Ray Charles concert at Mar-a-Lago, when Trump groped her butt. “I think it’s Ken’s camera bag, that was my first instinct. I turn around and there’s Donald. He sort of looked away quickly. I quickly turned back, facing Ray Charles, and I’m stunned.’’
Davidoff said moments later, McGillivray pulled him aside and said, ‘’Donald just grabbed my ass!’’
Since then: In October 2017, McGillivray told the Post that she was afraid of speaking out a year ago, but felt it was her patriotic duty. “What pisses me off is that the guy is president,” McGillivray said. “It’s that simple.”
Following the Roy Moore scandal, McGillivray said she was appalled that Republicans still weren’t acknowledging the allegations against the president. “It’s disturbing,” she toldPeople, “that many of Trump’s diehard supporters are so stubborn that they can’t seem to come to terms with the reality that their president is just as guilty as Roy Moore.”
Natasha Stoynoff (2005)
The allegation: The journalist claimed that Trump pushed her against a wall and forced his tongue down her throat while giving her a tour of Mar-a-Lago. Stoynoff was working on a profile of the Trumps, and said that while waiting for Melania to arrive for an interview, Donald told her, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
She said he also referenced a New York Post cover published during his affair with Marla Maples. “You remember,” he said. “‘Best Sex I Ever Had.’”
Since then: In November 2017, Stoynoff toldPeople she believes the allegations against Trump may have more power in the #MeToo era. “I feel this issue has been ‘on hold’ all year, but not forgotten,” Stoynoff said. “It’s been simmering on the stove with the lid on, like a pressure cooker. But now the heat’s on and it’s going to boil and the lid is going to blast off.”
Jennifer Murphy (2005)
The allegation: Murphy, a contestant in season four of The Apprentice, claimed Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview. “He walked me to the elevator, and I said good-bye. I was thinking ‘Oh, he’s going to hug me’, but when he pulled my face in and gave me a smooch. I was like ‘Oh–kay.’ I didn’t know how to act. I was just a little taken aback and probably turned red. And I then I get into the elevator and thought ‘Huh, Donald Trump just kissed me on the lips.”’
Juliet Huddy (2005)
The accusation: In December 2017, former Fox News host Juliet Huddy said Trump kissed her on the lips after a business lunch. “He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two,” she said on the radio show Mornin!!! With Bill Schulz. “He said good-bye to me in an elevator while his security guy was there’ rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. I wasn’t offended, I was kind of like, ‘Oh my god.’” She said she was “surprised” but “didn’t feel threatened.”
Huddy said that when Trump appeared on her Fox News show several years later, he joked to producers and audience members about making a pass at her, saying “I tried hitting on her but she blew me off.” Huddy said at the time she wasn’t offended by Trump’s kiss, but her view of the incident has changed. “Now I have matured I think I would say, ‘Woah, no,’ but at the time I was younger and I was a little shocked,” she said. “I thought maybe he didn’t mean to do it, but I was kind of making excuses.”
Rachel Crooks (2005)
The allegation: Crooks encountered Trump outside an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. At the time she was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real-estate investment and development company. She said she introduced herself and shook Trump’s hand, but he wouldn’t let go. He started kissing her cheeks and then “kissed me directly on the mouth.”
“It was so inappropriate,” Crooks told the New York Times. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”
Since then: In November 2017, Crooks told the Times that she’s heartened to see sexual-harassment allegations being taken more seriously post-Weinstein, but sees a contrast in the response to Trump’s accusers. “You do wonder,” Crooks said, “how can the country forget about us?”
Crooks was among the women who renewed their allegations against Trump in a December 2017 press conference.
On Megyn Kelly Today, Crooks said some have questioned why the incident wasn’t captured by security cameras, and she wonders the same thing.
“Yes, where is that? Let’s get that out because I would love for that to be made public,” she said. “He owns the building, I doubt that’s going to happen, but I’d be more than happy to let that surface.”
Crooks ran for a seat in Ohio’s legislature in the 2018 midterms, but lost to the Republican incumbent.
Samantha Holvey (2006)
The allegation: Holvey, the 2006 Miss North Carolina, said Trump personally inspected each contestant at an event in New York about a month before the pageant. “He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” Holvey said. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.”
Holvey, who was 20 at the time, also recalled Trump and his wife, Melania, entering a dressing room where other contestants were getting ready during the pageant. Most were wearing robes. “I thought it was entirely inappropriate,” Holvey said. “I told my mom about it. I was disgusted by the entire thing. I had no desire to win when I understood what it was all about.”
Since then: In December 2017,Holvey repeated her story at a press conference with several other women, and was interviewed by Megyn Kelly and Erin Burnett.
“It was heartbreaking last year,” Holvey told Kelly. “We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and how he views women, and for them to say ‘Eh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”
Ninni Laaksonen (2006)
The allegation: Laaksonen, a former Miss Finland, said Trump grabbed her butt while they were being photographed before an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt,” she said. “I don’t think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought: ‘What is happening?’”
Jessica Drake (2006)
The allegation: Drake, an adult film performer and director, said she and two friends went to Trump’s hotel room after meeting him at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, California. “He grabbed each of us tightly, in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission,” she said.
She said they left about a half-hour later; then Trump called her and invited her to go to dinner or a party with him. When she declined, he asked, “What do you want? How much?” She said she received a second call offering her $10,000 and the use of Trump’s private jet if she agreed to sleep with him.
Since then: Drake was among the four accusers who held a press conference on the day of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.
“Like many, I am horrified by the potential upcoming administration and fear the consequences it will have,” she said in January. “I want to use my platform to speak for others who cannot and join voices with those who can and who march with me here today.”
Summer Zervos (2007)
The allegation: Zervos, a contestant on the fifth season of The Apprentice, said she approached Trump about a potential job at his company. She claimed that during their first meeting at Trump Tower, he kissed her twice on the mouth and asked for her phone number.
Weeks later, he invited her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. She was escorted to Trump’s room, and said he asked her to sit next to him. “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast,” she recalled. Zervos said she pushed Trump away and told him to stop.
“He then grabbed my hand and pulled me into the bedroom,” she said. “He grabbed me in an embrace, and I tried to push him away.”
Zervos said when she protested, Trump “repeated my words back to me as he began thrusting his genitals.”
She still sought employment at the Trump Organization and believed she wasn’t given a job because she rejected his advances.
Since then: Three days before Trump was inaugurated, Zervos filed a defamation suit against him. It alleges that in response to the accusations she made during the election, Trump “debased and denigrated Ms. Zervos with false statements about her,” referring to his claims that all of his accusers were liars looking for “ten minutes of fame.”
“In doing so, he used his national and international bully pulpit to make false factual statements to denigrate and verbally attack Ms. Zervos and the other women who publicly reported his sexual assaults in October 2016,” the lawsuit said.
The accusation: In June 2016, Searles, Miss Washington 2013, tagged her former competitors in a Facebook post that read: “Do y’all remember that one time we had to do our onstage introductions, but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes? Do you also remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property?”
Many of the women said they did, and in one reply Searles added, “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”
Alva Johnson (2016)
The accusation: In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Floria on Monday,Alva Johnson claimed that she experienced a pattern of “racial and gender discrimination” while working on Trump’s 2016 campaign, and received an unwanted kiss from the candidate. Per the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow:
The incident in which Johnson said that Trump kissed her occurred during an event that she had helped organize in Tampa in August, 2016, according to the complaint. In an R.V. before Trump’s speech at the event, the complaint alleges, Trump took Johnson by the hand and leaned in to kiss her; she attempted to turn away, but, she claims, his mouth made contact with the corner of hers.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the claim “absurd on its face” and noted that two prominent Trump supporters that Johnson identified as witnesses denied seeing the kiss.
Johnson said she has been thinking about coming forward since the Access Hollywood video became public in October 2016.
“I’ve tried to let it go,” she told the Washington Post. “You want to move on with your life. I don’t sleep. I wake up at 4 in the morning looking at the news. I feel guilty. The only thing I did was show up for work one day.”
“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”
Martin Luther King
“To think that we can have a viable human economy by destroying the Earth’s economy is absurd. Indigenous people still live in a universe, but we don’t- we live in an economic system.”
Thomas Berry, “The Mystique of the Earth
The coronavirus did not manifest from nowhere. Our sadistic treatment and manipulation of animals for centuries has come back to haunt us. It is time for humanity to absorb the lessons of the animal world.
From the Orient the world has inherited a civilization upending event, this coronavirus feeding on the human strain. It is perhaps not a coincidence that it has manifested at the very time the UN is trying to form a Convention on Biological Diversity to protect what remains of the organic world. The contagion is the karmic result of our own ignorance and disregard of other species that began in China and that has visited us before. As Erin Sorrell, a microbiologist at Georgetown, exclaims, 70 percent of zoonotic diseases come from wildlife.
As the 2003 SARS virus already proved. Then the culprit may have been Asian palm civets. Today’s pandemic may have been caused by pangolins. The scale-covered mammals are kept in caged conditions in markets in Asia in criminally appalling realities, reserved for dinner menus. Most animals in these markets are dying and thirsty and kept in squalid containers moved and shipped around as if they were simple commodities. The conditions are a nightmare and have even prompted many Chinese to close the animal trade. How we treat animals affects entire ecosystems and habitats, the only real wealth we as a species have. China’s ban on wild animal markets may well be the one silver lining in this ensuing global tragedy, but it should become a permanent ban, not a temporary palliative because other viruses may well ensue in the not distant future given climate change is upon us.
Major conservation groups have also pleaded for Vietnam to take stringent measures to close its wildlife markets. Vietnam’s prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered the ministry of agriculture and rural development to ban the consumption of wildlife. We can only hope these initiatives manifest quickly and foster a new relationship to what remains of the Mekong basin’s wildlife. Vietnam’s actions will hopefully prevent not only new outbreaks in the future but also keep even more potentially virulent viruses from overwhelming the globe.
Wall Street has had the jitters, tens of millions in China have been as impacted as when the Mongol Golden Horde swept into the Middle Kingdom in the 13th century. But whatever deaths have overtaken our species in the last few months, deaths that number in the thousands, we should not forget the root source of this scourge, humanity’s revolting disregard, manipulation, and outright slaughter of our fellow beings, the animals of the earth.
The deafening silence of absent species marks our time as singular. What extinctions are happening will become more impactful than WWI, WWII or the Great Depression combined because now we have an enormous, almost unfathomable ecological tab to reckon with, and not just the folly of an economic system run amuck. The entire spectrum of nature’s syllabus is being played out. Our relationship with the sentient world will have to reverse or we perish. The coronavirus is the tip of the iceberg.
Animals were always considered cardinal spiritual, sentient and even intellectual beings in the lives of indigenous peoples and many civilizations past. But as colonial and technological powers overran the world, indigenous peoples were treated no better than the buffalo, or whale or pangolin or bat. And now our disregard of the others bears a karmic component we cannot ignore.
The criminal neglect and dismantling of Nature over the last century have led us to a point where globalization itself will have to be rapidly reappraised. Wall Street may have lost some ground, but the mounting possible extinction toll is many magnitudes more vital than the arbitrary machinations of the Dow. The death toll on millions of acres of rainforests lost, coral reefs bleached and species eradicated the world over has brought us to this point. It is the invisible aura of loss we have inherited. It is the karma our species is inheriting. The locust invasion of East Africa is a Biblical cohort to the virus of East Asia. Now our entire immune system as a species and that of the planet is under siege.
Paul Shepard, the eloquent ecologist who wrote triumphantly about the importance of animals, wrote in “The Others: How Animals Made Us Human,” “People are asked to rely on faith in the invisible and intangible, repudiating the beasts on which primal peoples depend as intermediaries, embodying spirits, affirming death, giving form to the mystery of the multiple truths of mortal existence, and acting as a vehicle to other realms.” It is not coincidental that this “Christian-” based society has so neglected its first teachers, the animals, for several thousand years and put so much faith in invisible gods and the afterlife, intangibles that have divorced us from life and the very soil on which we depend for our survival.
We have in Henry Heston’s words become “cosmic outlaws.” If we lose the animals, we will become inconsolable orphans. This most minute but insidious of beings, the coronavirus is a wake-up call to our unconscious selves. We have wrapped ourselves in a cocoon of technological, synthetic and decorative cultural achievement burdened with pride that strains and depletes our full values as sentient beings. In the process, we have ignored the suffering and sentience of others. The physiologist Rene Dubos once wrote that humans could adapt “to starless skies, treeless avenues, shapeless buildings, tasteless bread, joyless celebrations, spiritless pleasures — to a life without reverence for the past, love for the present, or poetical anticipations of the future, but it is questionable that man can retain his physical and mental health if he loses contact with the natural forces that have shaped his biological and mental nature.”
How we converse and conduct ourselves in the next year or two will morph into a different realm of relating, and hopefully into a more respectful species. We may need to grow roots under our feet once again and cultivate what Levi Strauss called an “ecological civicism.” We may need more than a pause from the pace of globalization that began to convulse the world two generations ago. Will we return to the same numbers game of outlandish growth, and greed when already much of the pollution from northern China seems to have dissipated from the map? Is not our entire fixation on profit a psychic numbing that has divorced us from ecological coherence?
Maybe the coronavirus is a warning sign, the first real test of our global community that has emerged from the Pandora’s box of an increasingly incorrigible species. Amazon-size ecosystems are in jeopardy. This insidious half live, half un-live being called corona has taken over our sleep and waking life like an alien invasion. Let us be grateful the next time we see a flock of birds flying miraculously overhead, or the next time we see a koala holding on to a branch for dear life, or the next time we see a dolphin dancing over the waves. And know these beings did not have to die a merciless, hapless, sick death in some market of central China where this virus originated.
The virus has given us a fever, yes, just as we have imposed a fever on the climate of the earth. Milan Kundera in the “Unbearable Lightness of Being” reminds us in one of the most poignant lines ever written, “Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, which is deeply buried from view, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”
And it is possible that the coronavirus may be just another contagion in a long line of lessons we will have to inherit from our fellow creatures. Recently a wolf’s head was discovered by mammoth tusk hunters in Siberia dating from 30,000 years ago. What viruses are embedded in their flesh? What strains will invade our civilization like ghosts from a forgotten Pleistocene seeping out from under the crying and collapsing torrent of glaciers up north, seeping slowly onto our shores? Will we learn the lesson that the pangolin, one of the most trafficked and severely abused mammals on earth, the one that has filled so many markets in Asia, is teaching us now across the time zones of the world? Will we make sure now that it does not go extinct? Even its exquisite plates, the only armored mammal on Earth, could not protect itself from the diabolic hunger of our species. Will the coronavirus humble us to the reality that humans make up just .01 percent of life on Earth? Will we have to absorb a virus so virulent, so complete in its ability to create havoc from the melting permafrost in the Arctic that humanity will become irreparably crippled?
The coronavirus in its all-pervasive pandemonium is a wake-up call, not just to our well-being and souls but also how we had better conduct ourselves towards the other species of this Earth, they who enable life as we know it. The coronavirus is a karmic test that we need to pass so that we as a species can transcend our conduct on this planet we have maligned and mistreated for far too long.
One immensely vital and fragile bioregion that promises potentially lethal pathogens is the Arctic. The great thaw at the top of the world, with ice melting at an extraordinary rate, with polar bears, whales and many other beings having to survive the immune breakdown of the region, is the main reason Shell and other mining and fossil fuel industries should stay clear from the region. Five years ago French scientists discovered a “giant virus” in a 30,000- year-old sample of permafrost in Siberia that had retained its infectivity. If we industrialize these areas and ride roughshod over the roof of the world we risk waking up pathogens we thought we had eradicated or helped foster the spread of things even worse than smallpox, said researcher Jean Michel Claverie.
Jean Malaurie, the remarkable French geologist and explorer of the Arctic who fought for the preservation of the Inuit from the contrivances and pollution of Western man, once expounded, “Men of science, like men of the state, have a duty imposed by ethics. The Earth is living: it can and will avenge itself: already there are portents. The Earth has no time left for man’s ignorance, arrogance, sophistry, and madness.”
In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.
The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.
That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.
Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency damages the reputation of our country and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:
The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.
Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.
Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president. Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?
We have reserved judgment on Mr. Trump for years now. Some have criticized us for our reserve. But when it comes to condemning the behavior of another, patient charity must come first. So we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump. To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.
Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today.
They weigh more than 1,000 pounds, are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are whipped and forced to run around tracks that are often made of hard-packed dirt at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour while carrying people on their backs. Racehorses are the victims of a multibillion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end at the slaughterhouse.
Racing to the Grave
Horses begin training or are already racing when their skeletal systems are still growing and are unprepared to handle the pressures of competition racing on a hard track at high speeds. One study on injuries at racetracks concluded that one horse in every 22 races suffered an injury that prevented him or her from finishing a race, while another estimated that 3 thoroughbreds die every day in North America because of catastrophic injuries during races.
Strained tendons or hairline fractures can be tough for veterinarians to diagnose, and the damage may go from minor to irreversible at the next race or workout. Horses do not handle surgery well, and many are euthanized or sold at auction to save the owners further veterinary fees and other expenses for horses who can’t race again.
When popular racehorse Barbaro suffered a shattered ankle at the beginning of the 2006 Preakness, his owners spared no expense for his medical needs, but as The New York Times reported, “[M]any in the business have noted that had Barbaro not been the winner of the Kentucky Derby, he might have been destroyed after being injured.”
Drugs and Deception
Trainers and veterinarians keep injured horses racing when they should be recovering by giving them a variety of legal drugs to mask pain and control inflammation. This leads to breakdowns because horses are able to run when, without the drugs, the pain would otherwise prevent them from trying.
Illegal drugs are also widely used. “There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director. “With so much money on the line, people will do anything to make their horses run faster.” One trainer was suspended for using a drug similar to Ecstasy in five horses, and another has been kicked off racetracks for using clenbuterol and, in one case, for having the leg of a euthanized horse cut off “for research.” A New York veterinarian and a trainer faced felony charges when the body of a missing racehorse turned up at a farm and authorities determined that her death had been caused by the injection of a “performance-enhancing drug.”
Even the ‘Winners’ Lose
When they stop winning races or become injured, few racehorses are retired to pastures, because owners don’t want to pay for a horse who doesn’t bring in any money. Many end up in slaughterhouses in Canada, Mexico, or Japan, where they are turned into dog food and glue. Their flesh is also exported to countries such as France and Japan, where it is considered a delicacy.
Most horses who are sent to those facilities endure days of transport in cramped trailers where there is no access to water or food and injuries are common. Horses are subject to the same slaughter method as cows, but since horses are generally not accustomed to being herded, once together, they tend to thrash about in order to avoid being shot by the captive-bolt gun, which is supposed to render them unconscious before their throats are cut.
What You Can Do
Help end the cruelty:
As long as the suffering continues, refuse to patronize existing tracks and lobby against the construction of new tracks.
Support PETA’s efforts to ensure that racing regulations are reformed and enforced. While horse racing can never be entirely safe for the animals, a zero-tolerance drug policy, turf (grass) tracks only, a ban on whipping, competitive racing only after their third birthdays, and other reforms would make a world of difference to the horses.
In 1879—140 years ago—one of the country’s first “bear pits” opened at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. In the startling historical photo below, you can see zoogoers looking on as a bear climbs a lone tree in a barren concrete pit. While our entire way of life has been revolutionized in the many decades since this photo was taken, things have remained shockingly unchanged for bears kept in captivity. In fact, bear pits have stayed relatively the same for so long that, were it not for the period clothing that they’re wearing, the people in this photo might be confused for roadside zoo patrons in 2019.
As our understanding of the complex social and physical needs of nonhuman animals has grown, people have become increasingly disillusioned with the idea of exploiting them for entertainment. In an attempt to more closely replicate animals’ natural habitats, most accredited zoo enclosures have been adapted over time to give animals more space and provide them with more mental stimulation. But bear pits, which are inherently cruel, don’t need to be modernized—they need to be closed down immediately.
While Lincoln Park Zoo’s bear pit, pictured above, has closed, at tourist traps and roadside zoos across America today, hundreds of bears spend their lives confined to small concrete-floored enclosures or pits. Some cubs are separated from their mothers as infants, so instead of being properly nurtured, they spend their days being forced to participate in photo ops with tourists. Their lives are typically devoid of any comfort or outlets for engaging in natural behavior.
These side-by-side photos show how little bear pits have changed over the decades, highlighting just how long this cruelty has been going on:
THEN (1951)NOWLEFT: St. Louis Post-DispatchLEFT: A polar bear in a barren pit begs for food at the St. Louis Zoo in the 1950s. RIGHT: Two bears are in a barren pit at the Cherokee Bear Zoo.
THEN (1923)NOWLEFT: Bears are shown in a pit at the St. Louis Zoo in 1923. RIGHT: Here’s a present-day bear pit at the Cherokee Bear Zoo in North Carolina.
THEN (1905)NOWLEFT: This photo, circa 1905, shows bears in a pit in Bern, Switzerland. RIGHT: In 2018, a bear is in a pit at Three Bears General Store in Tennessee.
Bears are highly intelligent animals who experience a wide range of emotions. In the wild, they forage for a variety of foods and dig in the soft earth, brush, and leaves—but concrete pits deprive them of everything that’s natural and important to them. Surrounded by solid walls, they can’t scan the horizon, gain a perspective on their surroundings, or make much use of their acute sense of smell.
Enough is enough. Let’s end bear pit cruelty.
Take Action to Help Bears Today!
At Pymatuning Deer Park in Pennsylvania, an apparently arthritic bear named Bosco is being forced to live in a concrete pit, even after his female companion, who suffered from arthritis, died. Pymatuning was previously cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for confining the arthritic female bear in such inadequate conditions. Arthritis is known to be caused and exacerbated by living on concrete—but today, Bosco still struggles to walk on the same hard surface. With your help, he could live out his days free from concrete in a vast enclosure and get the care that he desperately needs.URGE PYMATUNING TO CLOSE ITS BEAR PIT AND SURRENDER BOSCO!
There are a few major takeaways from this documentary that every pet parent should know. Here are 10 harsh truths about the pet food industry, exposed by Pet Fooled :
1. The vast majority of the pet industry is monopolized by 5 major companies.
Despite the fact that there are thousands of brands for different foods, toys, and products, only 5 major companies account for most of the $60+ billion industry – and that’s just in America. The overwhelming monopoly means that these companies dictate the bulk of commercial pet products, including what’s in them, how to produce them, and how to increase profits.
2. A massive and deadly recall in 2007 made consumers lose trust in the industry.
You may remember being part of the widespread panic of pet parents after contaminated wheat gluten killed thousands of cats and dogs. The culprit was melamine, a toxic chemical used in plastic and foam products that causes renal failure when consumed. Although multiple pet products and brands were affected, it was discovered that the tainted ingredient came from a single company located in China. This made consumers seriously question the health and safety of their pet’s food.
3. Our dogs’ DNA is 99.9% identical to wolves, so they require the same nutrition.
Biologically, dogs are nearly identical to wolves, with the small percentage of differing DNA accounting for all the different types of breeds that we know today. Dr. Karen Becker compares dogs’ variety of appearances to humans having different eye, skin, and hair colors, heights, builds, etc. Just because we look different, we’re all humans with the same basic nutritional needs – and the same goes for dogs, whose diets should resemble their wild cousins.
4. Every species requires a certain diet to fulfill their biological needs – and most pet foods miss the mark.
In the documentary, Dr. Becker talks about species-appropriate diets, meaning that each animal has a biological need for certain nutrients. While many wild animals will simply avoid the foods that are unnecessary for their bodies (she uses the example that if you give a snake a salad, it won’t eat it and will just die), our domesticated friends have been forced to consume additives and fillers. Cats and dogs are designed to be carnivores, and while they’re resilient, the nutritional deficiencies of their diets manifest themselves in a myriad of health problems.
5. When it comes to our pets’ declining health, grains are a huge culprit.
Dr. Barbara Royal points out that the overuse of processed grains like corn and wheat are a cheap way for companies to add “bulk” to their foods, but provide little nutrition for our four-legged friends. The consumption of these low-quality grains, she believes, is the cause for the widespread obesity, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and allergies that afflict our pets.
6. Kibble was an invention of the pet food industry during World War II, and it has led to some serious consequences.
During the war, there were rations on meat and tin. Up until then, packaged pet food was in cans, meaning it had a higher moisture content similar to their species-specific diets (in other words, fresh meat that they killed). But when meat became limited and tin reserved for ammunition, the pet food industry knew they had to formulate a convenient type of pet food that they could package in a bag – dry kibble. Now that this dry food is the norm, pets live in a state of chronic mild dehydration, and rates of kidney disease, organ failure, and diabetes have skyrocketed among pets.
7. The dietary advice from your vet may be influenced by the major pet food companies.
In the film, Dr. Karen Becker points out that the major pet food brands have a large part in funding vet students, therefore influencing their education. She and Dr. Royal point out that there’s a huge lack of education surrounding raw diets, and they’re taught to promote the big-name brands in the industry. What’s more, the doctors say that many modern vets have learned to discourage raw diets because of potential pathogens and bacteria. But in reality, our pets’ systems are designed to digest this material, in part with a high stomach acidity pH of 1. After all, Dr. Becker points out, dogs eat poop and lick their butts on a regular basis – behaviors that could kill a human. While any food brand is susceptible to being recalled (humans make mistakes, after all) raw food companies tend to make smaller batches, and make them with more care.
8. The people that set the standards for pet food have more to gain from profits than your pet’s health.
AAFCO – or the Association of American Feed Control Officials – is the organization that sets all the standards for pet food, including nutrient ratios, ingredient allowances, and the terminology that’s allowed on packaging. While this group works with the FDA, it is not government regulated. AAFCO also doesn’t approve products for safety, that’s where the FDA comes in.
AAFCO holds a yearly conference to update pet food standards, and according to Pet Fooled, representatives from major pet food companies attend the meetings so they, too, can weigh in. The danger is that these companies can define terminology and slip through loopholes in order to benefit their profits.
9. The terminology on pet food packaging is NOT what you think.
As mentioned above, AAFCO is responsible for defining terminology on packaging. For instance, your dog’s beef “dinner,” “nuggets,” or “formula” only have to contain 25% meat. If your cat’s food is labeled as “chicken with salmon,” the word “with” may only represent 3% meat. And the label “flavor” is the worst – “flavored” foods don’t have to contain any real meat at all. What’s more, foods with added colors are made to appeal to humans – your pets can’t even see the different hues when the food is dyed.
You also may have looked for protein percentages on your pet’s food. While this is a good place to start, that protein may not be meat. It could have been derived from wheat flour or gluten that’s been fortified with protein.
10. By-products are the result of processed animal carcasses from unknown sources.
Meat by-products and meals are commonly found in pet foods. They’re the result of what’s leftover when animal carcasses – feathers, hooves, teeth, and all – are boiled down and processed into a powder. But the most disturbing part is where the corpses could have come from: leftovers from slaughtered farm animals, road kill, diseased animals, and euthanized animals are all examples of what’s being rendered.
According to the National Renderer’s Association, putting the recycled carcasses in pet food is necessary because… well.. where else would they dispose of them?
So, now what?
In the documentary, Doctors Becker and Royal are strong advocates for feeding pets raw diets, food that is very similar to what they’d consume in the wild. If you’re used to feeding your dogs and cats kibble, as most pet parents are, the thought of switching to a raw diet can seem like a huge, expensive, undertaking. But don’t worry, there’s help out there!
If you want to make the switch but you aren’t sure you can commit, even just supplementing your pet’s diet with fresh foods can give them a big boost in heath. (Also, when transitioning your pet to a different diet, you should begin by introducing the new food a little at a time.)
A good place to start is Dr. Karen Becker’s video, The Best and Worst Foods to Feed Your Pet:
For more information about raw food diets for pets, check out these YouTube videos by Dr. Becker. Another great resource is Truthaboutpetfood.com, founded by a pet parent and advocate who made it her mission to uncover the secrets of this industry.
You know your pet better than anyone, and there’s no “one size fits all diet.” It’s up to you, as their guardian, to do your research, be diligent, and decide what works best for your companion and lifestyle.
You can watch the entire Pet Fooled film on Netflix to get all the nitty gritty details that documentary uncovers. You can also rent it on YouTube for $3.99.
Do you want a healthier & happier dog? Join our email list & we’ll donate 1 meal to a shelter dog in need!
Food Recalls and Deception: A Special Interview with Kohl Harrington By Dr. Karen Becker DB: Dr. Karen Becker KH: Kohl Harrington DB: Hi, I’m Dr. Karen Becker. Today I am going to interview Kohl Harrington. Kohl is a documentarian, a film producer, and a film maker. He has put together an amazing project. Kohl you have a lot to share with us. Welcome, first of all.
KH: Thank you. DB: Tell me a little bit about the project first. Of course, I have a million questions. What is the project and what is the inspiration of the project? KH: The project is Pet Fooled. It’s a feature documentary. The inspiration basically came from my coproducer, Michael Fossat, who had a dog, who had veterinarian problems, itchy skin. The person in charge or the person hired to basically groom the dog said, “This dog keeps having issues because of the food. Google ‘grain-free pet food’.” That led to him Google-ing and being confused, which led to basically a feature film about the topic because it was so confusing. DB: Kohl, when you were brainstorming about this idea, have you ever investigated anything animal before? I know that you have been in this industry forever. But were you nervous about approaching, not much as pets, but pet foods? Pet food as a topic. Were you nervous? KH: No. I was basically stepping into it clueless. I never heard of anything related to the pet food industry being a topic alone. I grew up with dogs. I grew up in Florida, so I grew up with dogs. They were outside dogs. They would roam and hunt things themselves. We had cats growing up too, but the cats, they would eat the cat food and then go catch their own things. I’ve been exposed to that as a kid. But the only thing I knew was dogs eat dog food; cats eat cat food. You buy it in can, and that’s basically it. I stepped into it blind, not knowing anything. DB: Very blind. You’re learning curve was exponential. KH: It was about two years into the entire process. Basically the first year was just trying to figure out what’s the issue. Because whenever you research online, the thing that was interesting to us was that you had two basic ideas on the Internet about the way the world works: corn is great; corn is bad. Raw is great; raw is bad. You had basically two worlds that existed. We were just trying to look at both sides to kind of weave through each side to see which one makes more sense. DB: Would you say you spent about a year in the research or investigation phase? How long did it take you to figure out a path? KH: Basically you’re just online swimming through anything and everything to learn as much as you can. You’re calling people and trying to dig a little bit more. It took about a year just researching the project and meeting with people before we had about like, I would say, 15 people who ironically are all in the Chicago area. Michael and I both looked at each other and said, “We have a lot of people in Chicago. Let’s just pack up and go.” We packed up and went to Chicago for a week and spoke with a lot of people. The majority of the film comes from those interviews that happened in that week. DB: When you were kind of wading through this amazing amount of information, I’m sure that you realized that not only is it a very heated topic, a very passionate topic, but certainly in the last 40 years, there have been all sorts of reasons that people have become very concerned and involved with this topic with the recalls, and of course, the massive amount of animal deaths because of pet foods. Were you aware of the recall issue? I know that the allergies, food allergies, or skin irritation in a personal pet kind of introduced you this topic. Were you aware of the recall issue before you investigated or had no idea? KH: Had no idea basically. I don’t think I had ever thought about pet food before. When Michael asked me, “Hey, I think this can be an interesting topic. It’s confusing.” I was like, “Really?” It just sounds like, “OK. There’s a problem in everything.” The interesting thing after it’s made is I feel like a lot more people are aware today about things. They’ve heard about things. The advent of the Internet. Everybody’s on the Internet all day, every day. These things like the recall have lived on, because we still have recalls. People are a lot more aware today than I was. I wasn’t aware of anything. It took me a year to kind of understand what byproduct was. It was confusing and it’s set up to be confusing. DB: It is. I know when I met you, you were still in the investigation phase. I love that because both of you were very objective. You didn’t have an underlying goal other than to learn more and to figure out what the issues surrounding this industry were, which I think is a noble goal and also a very confusing, ultimately a confusing goal. You did a great job of kind of sifting through all the issues. At what point in your research or in the film making process did you have AHA moments? At what point were you like, “Oh, my gosh. This is starting to make sense in my own brain”? KH: The reason I kind of thought it was, “Really? Pet food? You want to look into pet food?” was because there are really well-made documentaries out there and there are really not so well-made documentaries. It sounded at first a thought of somebody trying to make something out of nothing. That was my first reaction to the topic. Whenever we started going through the research and we came across corn is great, corn is bad. The industry was saying one thing and obviously had people who were criticizing that. My naive thinking at the time was, “If this is really not true, if corn is really amazing for the dog, these companies will meet with me and they’ll just fully explain.” That didn’t happen. DB: Talk about that, Kohl. When you tried to make contact or made contact with some of the industry leaders, what was you experience? KH: I basically kept a spreadsheet of everything. Anytime I would contact a pet food manufacturer or a person who worked at a pet food manufacturer, I would detail it in the spreadsheet. That went from calling the number, leaving a message, calling the media department, leaving a message, writing emails to basically personal emails to Facebook accounts that I knew the person worked for a certain company, and never received a response. The only response I received eventually was after I had kind of a debacle at a conference. Hill’s Science Diet called and they left a voice message, which is in the film. “We don’t want to participate in this film.” Beyond that voicemail, I haven’t received any response ever from anybody expressing any interest in being in the film. That says a lot. The fact that you’re being criticized for something and you’re not really standing by it, because you don’t have to. DB: In your research phase, initially when you were making contact with all of these pet food companies asking for their input, their perspective, their side of the story and you had no response, you did a great job of kind of covering all your bases and getting all of the opinions coming in. The people that did respond to you had passionate strong opinions and ultimately those were the people you interviewed. How did you go about finding people that ultimately put together pieces of this film in a logical order for you? KH: It was a mix of [inaudible 08:29]. The videos that you had you were reading pet food packages. Instantly, when I saw that, I was like, “I need that scene. I want to recreate that scene. I need that for this film.” Because it was so brash and just very well-worded and very clear and concise for the viewer to understand. The other person that is a major part of the film is Dr. Barbara Royal. We found her in an audio file on a law website. Basically, there was a guy by the name of Vince Field, who was a law student at the time and very passionate about pet law. He came to find out there was no money in pet law, so he practiced another form of law. But he’s still passionate about the subject and that area. When the 2007 recall had happened, he interviewed Dr. Royal. All he had was an audio file of her. I had no idea who she was. I just knew that I like the way she spoke about this topic. She was very upfront and honest. I needed that honesty about the topic. Because there are two types of people that you meet: people afraid to say anything and people who are brave to say something. These are people who are very few and far between. The way we approached everything basically is we would interview people. The interviews actually went a lot longer than anyone expected. I think our first interview was two or three hours. Somewhere up there. I would basically take these interviews, transcribe them, and every little detail in the interviews would lead to somebody else. It was just a constant building of, “This person says one, two, and three. I need to go fact-check that to see if that really exists, if that’s true.” [—– 10:00 —–] A lot of information on the real side of the industry started to make more sense the deeper that I got into it. The deeper I got into the side of corn, for example… If there was a certain pet food industry leader saying, “Corn is great because of this study,” I would then go by the study. I would read through the study. It was very clear that they were picking information and using it to their advantage. The study didn’t outright prove that anything was better than another thing, but they were basically using a line to say, “Dogs can process corn,” to then market “Corn is the best thing ever.” It was sort of those types of things that took a long time to do. It took about two years to fully like, “Oh, I finally understand everything.” I don’t know if the average consumer is going to take two years to fully tackle and understand this, but I feel like for anyone to really fully understand it for themselves, it’s going to take around that amount of time as well. There’s a lot of information. DB: It’s interesting because just wading through the ingredients that are most commonly put into commercially available pet food is one thing. But trying to wrap your brain around the raw food industry, or what raw food is or fresh food in general, that’s probably something that you had never heard of prior to you taking on this endeavor. You probably had never heard of feeding fresh food or raw food diets to dogs or cats. KH: In our initial interview, it’s funny. Because throughout the years, I’ve just been going through the footage and going through the footage and going through the footage. In our first interview, I remember laughing at myself in the beginning because it’s like, “What do you mean by raw food?” You literally had to explain in great detail what raw food was because we had never heard of that ever. We just thought, “OK, no corn. Great.” We’ve been conditioned culturally through advertising to believe a certain way. Companies are spending tens of millions of dollars if not more to advertise their products. After a while, it’s just a normal part of your thinking. It becomes a normal part of your thinking like, “That’s normal. I need a car. I’m going to go buy one. I’ve seen this commercial.” DB: Part of your documentary includes some very touching interviews with people who have been victims of recalls. In fact their pets have died. How did you contact those people, Kohl? Or once you realized that recalls existed, how did you track down the people that you wanted to interview that had had personal experiences with the recall? KH: There were two recalls that we covered for the film. One was the 2007 recall, which was the largest consumer product recall ever at the time. Of any product, not just pet food. The second was a chicken jerky issue. While we were filming, an issue had come to light where I’d read an article about pet parents banding together on a Facebook page because they were having issues with sickness or death relating to treats. I basically got in contact with a person who kind of facilitated the whole Facebook page. She created a database of everybody that had reported to her that they had an issue – who the person was, where they lived on a map, was there sickness, if the dog lived or did the sickness result in death. She had very detailed information with the chicken jerky. Through her, I was introduced to a lot of different people. If I were flying to Chicago to meet with somebody, I would go around and meet with all of the different people who would meet with me to say, “Tell me your story.” Randomly in Birmingham, we were filming at a conference. I took my camera guy to a restaurant he wanted to go to. Casual conversation. People were like, “Why are you here?” “We’re filming a little documentary.” “What about?” “Pet food.” “Oh, my God. My roommate just had the worst issue with this chicken jerky treat.” Even in a bar in Birmingham, people were having issues. We actually got to speak with her roommate who makes it into the film, [inaudible 14:43]. DB: I’m sure that those interviews – I have seen them – are very impactful. You had interviews that were insightful, interviews that were very emotional. What interviews where the most difficult or challenging during this process? KH: I would just go back to that question, the previous question just to kind of finish my thought. The interesting thing about the chicken jerky situation was that I was meeting with people and was basically in real time. In Birmingham, I met with a lady who this just happened to her three days prior. She was still confused. She had never questioned pet food at all or treats. She would just go and abide what the package said to her. It’s all-natural. It’s home-style dog. Whatever that means. What was interesting to me is what was happening was that you had all of these people all across the country where the same exact thing was happening to them. Sometimes the dog only got sick. Sometimes the dog died. There are other pet owners out there that fed that treat but never had an issue. But the interesting thing was that every person involved in the chicken jerky issue did not want to be involved in the lawsuit. The only thing that they wanted was for the product to be pulled off the shelf, the problem to be fixed, and to move on. They had something bad happen to them. They don’t want to be involved in the lawsuit because they’re not going to get anything. They know that. All they want is the product to be recalled, so it’s not killing more animals. Each one had problems with calling the manufacturer and being ignored. That’s what that scene points out, sort of how the company treats the consumer that they care for. That was a very shocking thing to me to basically call the company myself and have them respond, “Our treats have been tested. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t found anything.” I was lucky enough as well to have spoken with the FDA about the issue where they acknowledged, “There is an issue, but we can’t prove that.” It was this Catch-22 of, “There is a problem, but we can’t find the smoky gun.” What does that say? You just allowed the product to continue to be sold and continue to kill until you can find the smoking gun? You know that it’s killing. You’ve admitted that it’s killing. That’s the way the world works. The most uncomfortable interview that I had was I would say, we were randomly contacted by the Pet Food Institute, which is the lobbying organization. They contacted Michael and basically said, “We’re affiliated with the industry. We want to help you out.” My co-producer was like, “Who is calling?” They didn’t say who they were for quite a while. It was very odd. They invited us to speak with them. We’re like, “OK.” We took a trip to Washington, D.C. where we spoke to both the FDA and the Pet Food Institute. It was very clear with… Because you just want to sit back and you want to interview. You want to make that connection and speak from the heart. But with certain questions with the Pet Food Institute… I’ve been covering this chicken jerky issue, would you please explain what’s going on. It’s their job to represent the manufacturer. They’re not representing the consumer. The Pet Food Institute is representing the interest of the manufacturer. They said on camera and it made me uncomfortable, “There isn’t a problem with chicken jerky. This has been tested for years and the FDA has found nothing.” Our response was, “We record your answers.” I’ve spoken with people. I’m not trying to catch you on camera saying anything to make you look bad. I’ve covered this issue and people are having issues that result in death. Everyone is aware of it. I don’t understand why you’re basically saying it doesn’t exist. It was very uncomfortable. “The FDA looked into this. I trust the FDA.” Whenever you’re speaking with someone, you’re just trying to get their point of view that they care. It’s hard to draw that conclusion that they care when something is happening. I met with people. These people are not making this up. There is no conspiracy. You say that you represent the interest of consumers as well, but I don’t see any evidence that they’ve ever called anybody that I’ve spoken with and made the interest or the point that they care and they’re trying to fix the problem. It’s just brushed off as “It doesn’t exist.” Now, that’s uncomfortable. DB: Very uncomfortable. I’m actually really surprised that PFI even talked to you. I think it’s interesting. But I’m not surprised by their kind of evasive responses at all. I’m not surprised at all. KH: It’s different to have the dichotomy between speaking to you and Dr. Royal and a lot of other people. Even the FDA was open and honest. They were like, “You can interview us for 30 minutes. Be quick.” It turned into a couple of hours, because the topic is so in-depth and interesting. At the end of the day, what I gathered from the FDA interview was “Sorry, there are laws. We follow the law.” [—– 20:00 —–] If they were speaking in code with their eyes, that is what I took from the interview. “We know there’s a problem, but we can’t prove it.” It’s frustrating. They were using terminology to me that said that they cared. They wanted to help more. But what can they do if it’s not in the law that they abide by? DB: I know that you have flown around the United States. I know that you have gathered countless hours of footage. How did you pick and choose? How long is the film? KH: The final film is 71 minutes. We’ve shot hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage of interviews. We didn’t know anything. We were shooting and learning at the same time. Interviewing someone for a couple of hours was very valuable to us, because we were able to have transcripts after interviewing someone with a lot of information. Especially from interviewing yourself, where we could then use what you said and find the facts behind everything that you said, which would then help us in the end. The difficult thing about making a film is that you’re translating this basically what could be a conversation into a visual aspect. For me, it’s like translating English into a different language. It’s where you can have a conversation in person with someone, but watching a film is an experience in and of itself. I had to weigh a lot between this making the most sense for the consumer watching and not getting bored. It’s like stitching a quilt really. What topic do we talk about first in order to get into this topic in order to get into this topic? Because if the order became mixed up, the viewer would lose all interest in the topic and be confused. DB: I’m impressed that you were able to condense the volume of information down under 80 minutes. I’m totally impressed. What do you think the biggest takeaway for you personally was? Because your learning curve has just been like vertical on this entire topic. What do you think you’ve learned the very most from finishing this entire project? KH: The reason why I liked the film is that it’s Pet Fooled. It’s about pet food but at the same time it’s not about pet food. There are many different undertones of this film that represent other industries. The thing that kept me going throughout the years was the fact that I believe, as an American citizen, you have a right to question companies. You have a right to question your government. It’s very clear that the industry does have influence towards people questioning this product, questioning this industry, really, and the products that they sell. That’s what kept me going throughout the years, the fact that I believe that you have a right to question what you’re being sold. You have a right to transparency and know what is in what you’re being sold. That was what was the biggest shock to me was that it really took a lot of time to just understand the basics of what’s in these products. What should you have? What shouldn’t you have? What should you avoid? That was the biggest shock was that how misleading – I don’t know the corrective terminology to allude to how shocking the way this industry works. DB: Deceptive. Deceptive is the word that I use. KH: Deceptive. Yeah. DB: Yeah. It is. This is a five-year project, Kohl? Is that right? About five years? KH: We thought it would be two years. Then it turned into five. That’s the way it always goes if you make a film, a documentary. DB: Privately funded? I know nothing about the film industry. How do the logistics of funding and the distribution work? KH: It was extremely low-budget. Basically, we had the funding for what we filmed. Filmed everything and hired the camera guy and hired a couple of editors to help us out along the way. Just friends and family. That was what allowed us to get through. Once we moved into the distribution phase, we said “Here’s our rough cut product. We can’t afford to finish it.” And so whoever wanted to distribute it and to like give us finishing funds to finish the movie. It’s a shoestring budget. DB: Some of the best documentaries I have ever seen have been made exactly this way. I’m so excited to see the finished version if people – I know everyone watching this is going to want to see this, Kohl. Where are they going to go to see it? How are they going to get a hold of it? KH: Basically, Gravitas is a company here in Los Angeles. They’re our distributor. They deal with video on demand (VoD). It’s basically going to be on all digital platforms. If you have a certain cable provider, let’s say, Time Warner is big here in Los Angeles, you can tie on to your VoD, through your Time Warner and find Pet Fooled. You can find it on iTunes, Hulu, Vimeo on demand. Basically, any digital platform, Xbox, you can find Pet Fooled. We wanted to make it as widely available worldwide on any digital platform that we could, because that’s where consumers are going to be able to watch this film. DB: Yeah. Absolutely. What’s your projected release date? KH: The release date is October 4. DB: So exciting. Very exciting. I was honored and flattered to be a part of this documentary. I’m excited about what it’s going to accomplish in the sense that – you’re absolutely right. In five years, there has been evolution in the industry. But the majority of people still have no idea that there are issues within the pet food industry that they at least need to be aware of to make the very best choices for the animals that they’re caring for, certainly. I appreciate your conviction in hanging in there to finish this. It’s such an important topic. You’re really one of the few people I know that have had just the ability to want to tackle it and get the job done. I appreciate everything that you and your team have done. I can’t wait to see the finished product. Thanks, Kohl. KH: Thank you, too. Thank you. [END]