GLEN ROCK, N.J. — When Glen Rock's Karena Virginia came forward with claims that Donald Trump had groped her at the U.S. Open in 1998, some of her old pals from GRHS were rooting for her from afar.
“She discussed the idea of going public with her Facebook friends a couple of weeks before she did,” said Felix Svider, who graduated Glen Rock High School in 1988.
Virginia graduated in 1989 as Karena Ferrari .
“I’m a skeptical person. When I see allegations on TV, I tend to think people do it for publicity,” Svider said. “But knowing Karena’s character, I know she is not a person that in any way you could characterize as a liar.
“I completely, 100 percent believe her."
Svider said he has friends in town who are Trump supporters who believe Virginia’s story, too.
Trump, however, has denied all accusations against him, including the one made by Virginia last week, several media reports said.
His campaign manager has been quoted as dismissing all the women’s statements as “circus-like antics” and “fictional stories.”
Virginia is a renowned yoga teacher and empowerment coach with 14,000 Facebook likes.
A biography of her on the website of the International Kundalini Yoga Association says she started her career as an actress and model before becoming a certified healer and inspirational speaker.
She is a yoga teacher in both the Kundalini and Hatha schools, according to her own site . She has released “The Power of Kundalini Yoga,” a yoga DVD, and “Relax and Attract with Karena,” an app.
Today, Virginia is a member of Oprah Winfrey’s Belief Team and writes for the Huffington Post, a fact used to deride her as a life-winger in Trump circles.
At her press conference, she spoke of seeing the situation involving Trump and women through a spiritual, not political, lens:
“I believe we’re all needing to find peace within ourselves at this time. This is how I’m finding my inner peace. I wouldn’t have the integrity to keep teaching and speaking out for women without coming out and supporting the women who were told that they were liars.”
That’s the kind of thinking that doesn’t surprise her former drama and English teacher at Glen Rock High School, Okey Chenoweth.
“I know her to be a person of very good character,” Chenoweth said.
“She’s a beautiful person from a beautiful family,” he added. “I have very positive memories of her, her brother Robert, and her sister Stephanie, and I know their parents as well. They’re really nice people as well as talented and intelligent.”
The family still lives locally.
Stephanie Ferrari was Miss New Jersey 1998 and went on to compete in the Miss America pageant.
In her press conference, Virginia indicated she did not intend to sue Trump.
Svider wasn’t surprised by that, either. Virginia is successful in her own right, he said.
“There are pictures of her with Oprah,” Svider said. “She knows Bruce Springsteen. She knows Al Pacino. I think she’s friends with Kelly Ripa.”
Springsteen has endorsed her work, writing: “The gift of Karena is that she offers a whole new perspective on life.”
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