Melania Trump's former aide comes forward with sexual harassment claims

Donald Trump's lawyer allegedly pressured the victim to stay silent

By Web Desk
December 02, 2023
Former President Donald Trump and Melania Trump exit the funeral of Ivana Trump at St Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church on July 20, 2022, in New York City. — AFP

Melania Trump's former aide has spoken out in response to accusations that a waitress at Trump National Golf Club was sexually harassed by a supervisor before being duped into signing an unlawful non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by a Donald Trump lawyer.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff spoke out about the Trump family's use of NDAs after Alice Bianco, a former employee of the New Jersey club, claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New Jersey's Middlesex County Superior Court that Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, duped her into signing an illegal non-disclosure agreement in 2021 after being sexually harassed and coerced into sex by a supervisor named Pavel Melichar.

The action does not identify Trump or Melichar as defendants.

Bianco, then 21, said that club food and beverage manager Melichar, allegedly in his mid-50s, forced her to wear short skirts to work and forced her to kiss him.He allegedly forced her "to engage in sex as a quid pro quo for continued employment and 'protection,'" according to the suit.

She said that when she arranged a lawyer, Habba, a club member, approached her and persuaded her to dismiss her lawyer before convincing her to sign an NDA with a $1,000 per day penalty if she broke it in exchange for a "paltry sum." The amount is not specified in the lawsuit.

Habba told Bianco that "you don't want to go public with this" and "I can protect you," the suit quotes her as saying. She "poisoned" her relationship with her lawyer meaning she was left without representation.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the golf club from enforcing the NDA, to enable Bianco to keep the settlement money, to pay her legal bills, and to submit Habba to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics for "unethical behaviour."

According to the lawsuit, the NDA is unconstitutional under New Jersey law, which has prohibited such agreements since 2019.

Newsweek has contacted Habba by email to comment on this story. In an email to Politico, she said: "I always conduct myself ethically and acted no differently in this circumstance."

Winston Wolkoff, a former top assistant to Melania Trump who has since become an outspoken opponent of the Trump family, said on X, previously Twitter, that the usage of NDAs was not unusual among individuals affiliated with the former president.

"The Trumps' use of NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS (NDA's) have kept too many SILENT for far too long," she wrote alongside a link to NBC News' coverage of the lawsuit.

Newsweek reached out to Winston Wolkoff and the Trump Organisation for comment on this story via email.

Winston Wolkoff resigned from the White House in February 2018 when it was revealed that a firm she created got $26 million for its involvement in Trump's inauguration, with her receiving $1.6 million herself. In a statement to the New York Times in 2019, she rejected the charges.

Winston Wolkoff released Melania and Me, a book on her 15-year friendship with the former first lady, in 2020.

Meanwhile, Habba, who began defending Trump later that year, is now one of his lawyers in his civil fraud trial as well as a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E Jean Carroll, which is set to go to trial in January.

She previously defended Trump in his lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and hundreds of former Justice and FBI officials.

According to the court in the case, Habba and Trump were forced to pay roughly $1 million in fines to the 31 defendants, including Clinton, whom they sued in the "completely frivolous" Florida action.