Arnold had hoped that the short run-up to the election would keep his past from coming to light. But an avalanche of revelations begins today.
Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades say he touched them in a sexual manner without their consent.
In interviews with The Times, three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks.
A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.
According to the women's accounts, one of the incidents occurred in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and one in 2000.
"Did he rape me? No," said one woman, who described a 1980 encounter in which she said Schwarzenegger touched her breast. "Did he humiliate me? You bet he did."
Four of the six women told their stories on condition that they not be named. Three work in Hollywood and said they were worried that, if they were identified, their careers would be in jeopardy for speaking out against Schwarzenegger, the onetime bodybuilding champion and box-office star who is now the front-runner in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election.
The other unnamed woman said she feared public ridicule and possible damage to her husband's business.
In the four cases in which the women would not let their names be published, friends or relatives said that the women had told them about the incidents long before Schwarzenegger's run for governor.
The earliest incident of the six described to The Times was said to have occurred in 1975 at Gold's Gym near Venice Beach. E. Laine Stockton, then newly married to professional bodybuilder Robby Robinson, said she had gone to the gym to watch her husband work out.
Stockton was 19 at the time. She said she was wearing slacks, tennis shoes and a loose-fitting T-shirt. She said she was not wearing a bra.
As she sat on an exercise bench, Stockton said, Schwarzenegger walked up behind her, reached under her T-shirt and touched her bare left breast.
"The gym is full of bodybuilders and Arnold comes and he gropes my breast — actually touches my breast with his left hand," she said.