NEW YORK: A former “Apprentice” contestant who accused former president Donald Trump of sexual assault dropped her defamation lawsuit against him Friday. Summer Zervos sued the then-president in New York state court in 2017, saying he damaged her reputation when he said she and other women alleging sexual assault and harassment were making things up. Friday’s filing said the case was dismissed and discontinued with prejudice, meaning Zervos could not file the same claim in state court in the future. The filing also said each party is responsible for their own costs. Zervos accused Trump of kissing and groping her against her will in 2007, speaking of it during the 2016 presidential campaign. He denied the accusations.
Zervos’ attorneys, Beth Wilkinson and Moira Penza, said in statements that “after five years, Ms Zervos no longer wishes to litigate against the defendant and has secured the right to speak freely about her experience.” “Zervos stands by the allegations in her complaint and has accepted no compensation,” they said. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, called Zervos’ decision to drop the case “prudent.” “She had no choice but to do so as the facts unearthed in this matter made it abundantly clear that our client did nothing wrong,” Habba’s statement said. “It is so sad when things like this can happen, but so incredibly important to fight for the truth and justice. Only victory can restore one’s reputation!” Trump said in his own statement.
Last month, Habba had asked the court for permission to file a counterclaim against Zervos. The two sides had been due to complete depositions by Dec 23. The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, unless they come forward publicly, as Zervos has. The Apprentice is an American reality television program that judges the business skills of a group of contestants. It has run in various formats across fifteen seasons since January 2004 on NBC, with the most recent season having run in 2017. The Apprentice was created by British television producer Mark Burnett.
Billed as “The Ultimate Job Interview,” the show features fourteen to eighteen business people who compete over the course of a season, with usually one contestant eliminated per episode. Contestants are split into two “corporations” (teams), with one member from each volunteering as a project manager on each new task. The corporations complete business-related tasks such as selling products, raising money for charity, or creating an advertising campaign, with one corporation selected as the winner based on objective measures and subjective opinions of the host and his advisors who monitor the teams’ performance on tasks. The losing corporation attends a boardroom meeting with the show’s host and their advisors to break down why they lost and determine who contributed the least to the team. Episodes ended with the host eliminating one contestant from the competition, with the words “You’re fired!” (Agencies)