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Ex-‘Apprentice’ Contestant Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump

A woman who appeared as a contestant on “The Apprentice,” the reality television show Donald J. Trump hosted before he ran for president, has agreed to end her defamation lawsuit against him, her lawyers said on Friday.

The woman, Summer Zervos, filed the suit in 2017 after Mr. Trump accused her of lying when she said he had kissed and groped her without her consent. The lawsuit stalled for a time as Mr. Trump sought to have it dismissed, but a court allowed it to continue after he left office.

On Friday, with little warning, Ms. Zervos’s lawyers announced that their client had decided not to pursue the case any further.

“After five years, Ms. Zervos no longer wishes to litigate against the defendant and has secured the right to speak freely about her experience,” the lawyers, Beth Wilkinson and Moira Penza, said in a statement.

“Ms. Zervos stands by the allegations in her complaint and has accepted no compensation,” they added.

In a document filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday, Ms. Penza and a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Alina Habba, acknowledged that both sides had agreed not to continue the case. It was not immediately clear what was behind Ms. Zervos’s decision.

Last month, Ms. Habba signaled in a court document that Mr. Trump planned to file a countersuit against Ms. Zervos, arguing that she had stifled his right to speak freely. Ms Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. In the document filed with the court, she also agreed to drop any potential counterclaims.

Ms. Zervos was one of more than 10 women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct during the 2016 presidential campaign. She said that he had forced himself more than once, including at his office in New York and at a Los Angeles hotel.

Mr. Trump denied both accusations, saying on Twitter that Ms. Zervos’s account and others were “made up events THAT NEVER HAPPENED.” Ms. Zervos responded by suing him.

Mr. Trump continues to defend himself against another defamation suit, this one brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll. Ms. Carroll has accused him of raping her in the 1990s in a Manhattan department store, and she sued him for defamation in 2019 after he denied the allegations and branded her a liar.

A lawyer for Ms. Carroll, Julie Fink, said in a statement on Friday the writer did not intend to withdraw her complaint.

Ms. Fink also pointed to proposed legislation pending in the New York State Legislature that would eliminate the relevant statute of limitations and said that if it were to pass, Ms. Carroll would also sue Mr. Trump over the alleged assault.

Mr. Trump faces other significant legal problems, most prominently an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney that is focused on, among other things, whether his business, The Trump Organization, manipulated property values to receive favorable loans and other benefits. The authorities in Westchester County, N.Y., are conducting a similar inquiry.

Mr. Trump was also recently deposed in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say his security guards roughed them up in 2015. It was the first time he had been questioned under oath since leaving office.

And he is facing potential scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission over the merger of a social media venture and special purpose acquisition company.

Benjamin Weiser contributed reporting.

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