New York City’s council speaker has revealed that she was molested as a child, a disclosure she said Thursday she feels compelled to make because of what she called the “vile political climate” created by a recording of the Republican presidential nominee’s boasting of his sexual aggression against women.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, 47, told reporters at an unrelated news conference at City Hall, she was molested by two different people twice between ages 5 and 8.
“What really triggered it for me was last Friday, when we heard about the tape, when you have an individual who is boasting about violating and taking from a woman something without her consent,” Mark-Viverito, a Democrat and surrogate for Trump opponent Hillary Clinton, said, her voice quivering.
She was referring to an 11-year-old recording released Oct. 7 of Donald Trump boasting about taking liberties with women. He said he gropes and kisses women he is pursuing because he is famous. He later apologized but dismissed the tape as locker-room talk. After he denied in a presidential debate having actually abused women, several women came forward on Wednesday night to say the tape reflected Trump’s treatment of them.
“I would feel uncomfortable having anyone around me that could support that candidate, because in essence, you are condoning that type of behavior where you think it’s OK to violate a woman, right? Because of the power you have,” she said.
Mark-Viverito, who didn’t say who had molested her, said she had not come to terms with the abuse until decades later.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said he spoke to Mark-Viverito earlier in the day, called her disclosure “very gutsy, honorable and painful.”
“It’s very powerful that she was willing to put herself out there in this way,” he said.
Trump’s spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment.
Thursday’s revelation is the latest private matter Mark-Viverito has made public. In 2014, Mark-Viverito tweeted news that she has the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, which causes warts in the genital area. She said she talked about the diagnosis as a way to ease the stigma around HPV, which causes cervical and other cancers. There is a highly effective vaccine, but many young people are not vaccinated against the fairly common infection.