Sondland, who became a media figure thanks to his televised testimony during the live impeachment inquiry and Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation of him last week, is being accused of actions before he became an ambassador in June 2018.
Three women said Sondland, then a prominent businessman, lured them to what they thought were business meetings, but turned into uncomfortable incidents. Sondland was then the founder and CEO of the Provenance Hotels chain, which spans 19 locations across the US. The incidents allegedly happened in years spanning 2003 to 2010.
Sondland has denied all of the allegations.
Nicole Vogel claims she met Sondland in 2003. At the time, she was looking to launch a magazine, and Sondland offered to point out investors and potential advertisers. They had dinner, but then adjourned to Sondland’s Hotel Lucia, where Sondland lured her to a room. Vogel went with him, but claims when she tried to leave “Sondland’s voice stopped her.”
“I remember seeing my hand drop from the door handle,” she said. “I turned around, and he’s standing right behind me, and he says, ‘Can I just have a hug first?’” He then grabbed her face and attempted to kiss her. She rebuffed him and then left.
A few weeks later, they met again for lunch, ostensibly to discuss a Sondland investment in her magazine project. Vogel claimed Sondland placed his hand on her mid-thigh and left it there for ten minutes on the drive back to her office. He later turned down the opportunity to invest.
Jana Solis claimed she met with Sondland for lunch, hoping to acquire a client for her employer, an insurance company and investment advisory. The meeting went well, but Sondland slapped her backside as they were leaving and said, “I look forward to working with you.” He later invited her to his home to view an art collection, but that meeting deteriorated when Sondland allegedly exposed himself to her. At yet another meeting, he forcibly kissed her, Solis claimed.
After breaking free, Solis claimed she said, “‘Gordon, I’m not sure what else to say. You know, I really, really want to do business with you, but I’m not sure we can. I don’t know what your issues are, but I am telling you, I cannot make them mine.’” Sondland later called to complain about Solis’s job performance. “He was pissed. He didn’t get his way,” she said. They stopped working together.
Finally, Natalie Sept met Sondland in 2010 while working as a campaign manager for a Portland city councilman. Sept had dinner with him, then insisted on walking her to her car.
Sondland leaned in for a hug once they arrived to her car. “So I give him a quick hug and he holds onto my shoulders and looks at me and pushes himself into me and tries to kiss me.” Sept said. She escaped in her car.
Sondland issued a statement defending himself. “In decades of my career in business and civic affairs, my conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances. These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.”
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