Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, who has become a key witness in the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women who say he retaliated against them after they rejected his advances.

In one case, a potential business partner recalled that Sondland took her on a tour in a hotel he owned, then grabbed her face and try to kiss her. After she rejected his advances, Sondland backtracked on investing in her business, she told ProPublica, which broke the story on Wednesday.

Another woman recounted that Sondland exposed himself to her during a business interaction.

And a third woman, 27 years younger than Sondland, said she met him to discuss job opportunities and instead he pushed himself against her and kissed her, so that she was obliged to shove him away, after which he stopped assisting her career.

Sondland, who testified last week that he considered Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 election as Donald Trump held up the country’s military aid to be a definite case of quid pro quo, denied the allegations in a statement.

“These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes,” Sondland said. “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. “Notably, what each of these three women share in common is that they pursued Ambassador Sondland for financial and personal gain – an investment, a job and insurance brokerage work – and he declined their proposals,” said lawyer Jim McDermott.

McDermott added that the timing of the article’s publication could be viewed as “veiled witness tampering”, but the authors of the piece noted they began reporting on the story last month.

Sondland’s website posted a statement, referring to “underhanded journalism”.

Kathryn Watson

Gordon Sondland’s website now has a link to a statement disputing the Pro Publica story in which three women allege misconduct pic.twitter.com/wadELP4bZu

November 27, 2019

The three women accusing Sondland of sexual misconduct all shared their names and allegations on the record with ProPublica.

One of Sondland’s accusers is Nicole Vogel, the owner of Portland Monthly, which co-published the report about the allegations against the ambassador. An editor’s note specifies that Vogel was not involved in editorial decisions about the piece.

Vogel said Sondland tried to forcibly kiss her when she was raising money to start the magazine in 2003. Sondland, who owns five hotels in Portland, Oregon, with his company Provenance Hotel Group, had already said he would invest in the magazine when he invited Vogel to see one of the rooms at his nearby property.

According to Vogel, she lavished praise on the rather mundane room and was turning to leave when Sondland asked for a hug. “And as I pulled back, he grabs my face and goes to kiss me,” Vogel said. “I said, ‘Ooh Gordon, you’re a married man, and you’d just break my heart.’”

Vogel then hurried to leave the hotel. A few weeks later, after another uncomfortable encounter in which Sondland put his hand on her thigh, he told Vogel he would not be investing in the magazine after all.

Meanwhile, a second woman, Jana Solis, has accused Sondland of exposing himself to her and forcibly kissing her when she was inspecting some of his properties and possessions in 2008.

Sondland had asked Solis to evaluate 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.

“I get out to the pool house, and he is now naked from the waist down,” Solis told ProPublica.

She extricated herself safely and diplomatically from the situation but a few months later while working at a Sondland hotel, he invited her to the penthouse, which served as his private living quarters. Solis remembers Sondland asking her to have a drink on the couch with him, which she agreed to.

“The next thing I know, he’s all over me,” Solis said. “He’s on top of me. He’s kissing me, shoving his tongue down my throat. And I’m trying to wiggle out from under him, and the next thing you know, I’m sort of rising up to get away from him, and I fall over the back of the couch.”

Solis said Sondland later called her at work to yell about her professional performance, which she blamed on her rejection of his advances.

A third woman, Natalie Sept, said Sondland offered to help her with her career in 2010 but he cut off communication after she rejected a forcible kiss from the hotel owner.

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