Eleonora Antillon, 60, Emma Daly, 53, and Marta Araya Marroni, also 53, went public with their own accusations against Arias, ranging from harassment to assault, 48 hours after allegations were made by by psychiatrist and anti-nuclear activist Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold.
The women – two journalists and a book editor – recounted shocking incidents to the New York Times over the course of three decades at the hands of one of Costa Rica’s most prominent political figures.
Antillon, a well-known journalist and television host, revealed this week that Arias assaulted her in 1986 while she was working as a press aide on his first presidential campaign. She claims on one occasion, when they first met, that Arias put his hand on her leg. During another meeting, Arias allegedly placed Antillon’s hand on his erect penis. She resisted, and when she did, she claims he shoved her against a wardrobe and kissed her. She said she clenched her mouth shut, which prompted Arias to lick her face.
People began knocking on the door, in response to the noise coming from inside the office, though she said she did not scream or call for help. She finished her three-month contract with Arias’ campaign, she said, but the incident eventually forced her into hiding. When Arias reentered the public eye a decade ago, Antillon says she retired.
“I am, I was, almost an Oprah Winfrey in Costa Rica,” she told the New York Times. “I am totally isolated now, practically hidden.”
In an interview, Antillon says she hopes that sharing her story will embolden others to do the same, as Von Herold did for her.
“People end up thinking, ‘If she dared, others will dare,’” she said. “I want to unmask the impostor politician.”
Emma Daly, who now works as the communications director for Human Rights Watch, says she suffered a mortifying public exposure by Arias in 1990 when she was a 25-year-old Reuters reporter. She asked the politician a question during a busy event at the InterContininental Hotel in Managua, Nicaragua. Instead of answering her question, she said, he ran his hands over her chest and between her breast, and declared that she was not wearing a bra.
“I didn’t get physically hurt the way other people do,” she said. “It was the humiliation of being made to feel you don’t matter in any way.”
The fourth woman to have come forward against Arias is 53-year-old book editor Marta Araya Marroni, who said she met with him while editing his collection of essays and speeches, “Con Velas, Timon y Brujala” in 2012. During one meeting, she claims he abruptly put his hand on her leg, which she brushed off and informed him was inappropriate. Twice after, she claims, he called her insisting that she visit his home for a massage.
Marroni added that she told many people about the incident. “The only reason I would have to publish this is so that the people believe the women who file complaints,” she said. “It disgusts me a lot that people always think these are lies.”
The most recent incident reported against Arias is that of his original accuser, Dr. Alexandra Arce von Herold, who alleges that he groped her breast, put his hands up her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers during a meeting at his home in 2014.
Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, issued a statement through his lawyer “categorically” denying the accusations against him. In an additional statement on Tuesday, he added that women’s rights are an important issue for him.
“In my public life I have promoted gender equality, because I believe that it is an indispensable means to achieve a more just and equitable society for all people,” he said.
His lawyer added that they would not be commenting further on the accusations “out of respect for the process that is in course.”