Sondland accused of sexual misconduct prior to becoming envoy

Gordon Sondland, who was a key witness in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, is being accused of sexual misconduct by three women prior to his becoming ambassador to the European Union.

The women allege he misbehaved with them when they sought his help in promoting their business. The alleged incidents happened between 2003 and 2010 when Sondland was founder and CEO of the Provenance Hotels chain.

The stories of the three women were first reported on Wednesday in an article jointly published by ProPublica and the Portland Monthly.

Sondland dismissed their allegations as false and politically motivated.

Nicole Vogel, who owns Portland Monthly, said she met Sondland in 2003 while searching for a potential investor for her journal.

Vogel said Sondland allegedly promised to invest in her publishing venture. After dinner, as they were entering one of the rooms of a hotel owned by his company, Sondland allegedly grabbed Vogel’s face and tried to forcibly kiss her.

While driving her home after their second meeting, he put his hand on her thigh forcing Vogel to put her own hand atop his so he could not move it further up.

After these two incidents, Sondland decided not to invest.

His lawyer Jim McDermott said Sondland carefully considered Vogel’s business proposal before turning it down.

McDermott also alleged that Vogel and her publication, which is under financial strain, stand to benefit from publishing the controversial article.

ProPublica said Vogel was not involved in the editorial decision to run the story.

The second case involved Jana Solis who met Sondland in 2008 when she worked as a hospitality safety engineer for the insurance company Marsh & McLennan.

Solis alleged that after business talk over lunch, Sondland slapped her on the ass and said he looked forward to working with her.

On another occasion, while visiting his home to see his art collection, Solis found him naked from the waist in the pool house. He allegedly told her he thought they could have some fun.

Next, he invited Solis to his penthouse when she was holding a staff training at one of his hotels. While she was sitting on a couch with him, Sondland allegedly exposed himself and tried to forcibly kiss her.

After the third incident, Sondland allegedly called Solis and shouted at her over her job performance.

Solis said she stopped working with him after that call.

The third woman, Natalie Sept, told the two publications that she met Sondland in 2010 at Hotel Deluxe owned by Provenance while working as a campaign manager for a Portland councillor.

According to Sept, Sondland promised her many things including working with the governor.

After dinner at the steakhouse El Gaucho, Sondland allegedly walked her to her car and tried to forcibly kiss her.

Sept pushed Sondlad away and drove off. She never heard from him again.