According to Willamette Week, smirking Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, and a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women who say he retaliated against them after they pushed back against his behavior.
Jana Solis claimed Sondland exposed himself to her and forcibly kissed her when she was inspecting his personal art collection, even though she didn’t have expertise in art valuations. At one point, Sondland asked her to meet him in the pool house. Solis told ProPublica:
“I get out to the pool house, and he is now naked from the waist down. He said something about, ‘I thought we could chat’. And I said something, trying to keep his ego intact — not that he needed that, not that it wouldn’t have been anyway — I said something like, ‘I can’t have that conversation’.”
Nicole Vogel, owner of Portland Monthly magazine says Sondland tried to forcibly kiss her when she was raising money to start the magazine in 2003. Sondland, who owns five hotels in Portland with his company Provenance Hotel Group, already said he would invest in the magazine when he invited Vogel to see one of the rooms at his nearby property. Vogel praised a room and was turning to leave when Sondland asked for a hug. Vogel:
“And as I pulled back, he grabs my face and goes to kiss me I said, ‘Ooh Gordon, you’re a married man, and you’d just break my heart’.”
Vogel says she hurried to leave the hotel. A few weeks later, after another uncomfortable encounter when Sondland put his hand on her thigh, he told Vogel he would not be investing in the magazine after all.
Natalie Sept claims Sondland offered help with her with her career, but he cut off communication after she rejected his forcible kiss. Sondland told her he could arrange a job for with the Oregon Film Board and invited her dinner to talk about it. After the dinner, during which the job only came up briefly, Sondland invited her to have a drink at a nearby bar. Sept:
“When I come back from the bathroom, he is sitting on the booth side of this big table He says, ‘Come sit next to me’.’And I thought, ‘Oh my god, this isn’t good’.’So I said, “Oh, I forgot, I have to go home’.”
Sondland insisted on walking Sept back to her car and asked for a hug. Sept:
“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.”
She got away and sped off. The job opportunity disappeared.
Sondland testified last week that he considered crazy Rudy Giuliani‘s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 election as POTUS held up the country’s military aid to be a definite case of quid pro quo.
Sondland, in Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday, told WW:
“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.”
Sondland’s lawyer even suggested the women may be retaliating against the ambassador after failed business opportunities. His lawyer Jim McDermott claims that the timing of the article’s publication could be viewed as “veiled witness tampering”, but the writers of the piece pointed out that they began reporting on the story since last month.
Portland Monthly co-produced the story, but the production says that Vogel had no editorial involvement.