edecades after she was allegedly raped by a New York real estate mogul who would become the 45th president of the United States, E. Jean Carroll is getting her day in court.
Ms. Carroll, writer and former advice columnist for El magazine, is the plaintiff in a pair of civil suits against former President Donald Trump.
One of those lawsuits will now be presented in a New York federal courtroom starting Tuesday, April 25, when a jury will be selected under the supervision of US District Judge Louis Kaplan.
Those jurors, who will remain anonymous at the behest of Judge Kaplan because of the risk of threats, intimidation or direct violence against anyone considered an enemy by Mr. Trump and his supporters, will hear evidence of allegations made by Ms. Carroll against twice impeached and impeached former president.
Ms. Carroll alleged that Mr. Trump raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.
The magazine columnist first spoke about the allegations in 2019, when Mr Trump was president.
After he denied the allegations and accused her of lying in an attempt to boost sales of her upcoming book, she sued him for defamation in November 2019.
This lawsuit has been in the courts for years and has yet to go to trial.
Then, last year, New York lawmakers passed the state’s Adult Survivors Act, giving victims of sexual assault a one-year window to sue their attackers for assaults that happened years ago.
That law paved the way for Ms. Carroll to file a second lawsuit against the former president in November, accusing him of both raping her and then defaming her years later by denying the assault took place.
That second case — seeking damages and withdrawing his waiver — is now scheduled to be played out in a New York court this week.
What Carol said about the alleged dressing room rape
The allegations against Mr Trump were first laid out in an extract from her book What do we need men for? A humble suggestion, who rushed in new York magazine in June 2019.
In an excerpt from the book, she said she was shopping at the Bergdorf-Goodman department store in New York when Mr. Trump approached her and struck up a conversation, asking her for help choosing a gift for a woman.
She then claims he took her to the lingerie section of the store and asked her to try something on for him in the dressing room before pinning her against a wall and sexually assaulting her for three minutes.
At the time, Ms Carroll said the emergence of the #MeToo movement in late 2017 motivated her to tell her story publicly.
Mr. Trump addressed the allegations days later when pressed by reporters at the White House.
He claimed he had “never met her” and denied raping her, telling the White House press office that Ms Carroll “was not [his] Type”.
He also accused her of lying to boost sales of her memoir.
“She’s trying to sell a new book — that should show her motivation,” the then-president said, adding that her book “should be sold in the fiction section.”
Ms. Carroll rejected his claims, sharing a photo of herself and Mr. Trump with his then-wife Ivana Trump and her then-husband John Johnson at an NBC party in 1987 to show they had met.
In her defamation suit against Mr Trump in 2019, she alleged that his rebuttals had caused her to “suffer reputational, emotional and professional harm” and said she was suing “to obtain compensation for those injuries and to demonstrates that even a man of power like Trump can be held accountable under the rule of law.”
The Justice Department’s involvement delayed the defamation case
Although a Clinton-era Supreme Court case, Jones v. Clinton, allows presidents to be sued for conduct that occurred before they were in the White House, Mr. Trump’s legal team asked the Justice Department to help defend him in the 2019 case.
The department filed documents seeking to shield him from liability on the grounds that he was acting in an official capacity as president when he made the allegedly defamatory statements about Ms. Carroll. But Judge Kaplan rejected those arguments and said the case could proceed. Mr Trump’s attempt to appeal that decision also failed in September 2021.
His legal team took a different approach in February last year when they decided to counter-suit Ms Carroll.
But Judge Kaplan blocked that bid in a scathing ruling dated March 11, 2022, in which he denounced Mr. Trump’s continued attempts to delay the case as “futile” and “in bad faith.”
“Defendant’s litigation tactics, regardless of their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that could easily have been much less,” Judge Kaplan wrote.
“Granting leave to amend without giving due consideration to the futility of the proposed amendment would worsen a regrettable situation by opening new avenues for significant further delay.”
Allowing Mr. Trump to file a countersuit “would make an unpleasant situation worse,” the judge added.
Ms. Carroll is also suing Mr. Trump over the alleged rape itself
Last year, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act, which created a one-year suspension of the statute of limitations for rape and other civil lawsuits stemming from sex crime allegations.
The law allows survivors of sexual abuse to sue their attackers, regardless of when the alleged abuse took place.
In November 2022, shortly after the bill was signed, Ms. Carroll filed a second rape lawsuit against Mr. Trump.
The new case accuses him of battery — and also adds a new defamation claim based on recent posts in which he called her a “fraud.”
Both lawsuits seek monetary damages from the former president.
Judge Kaplan rejected Trump’s request for a last-minute delay
After Mr. Trump’s lawyers made a one-hour bid to once again delay his long-delayed civil defamation and rape trial on the grounds that the publicity surrounding his recent indictment required a “cooling off” period to ensure an impartial jury, Judge Kaplan said a month-long delay requested by Mr. Trump’s lawyers would not affect the potential jury pool in the case, which will be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“There is no reason to suggest that a sufficient number of fair and impartial jurors could not be found on April 25, 2023, or that it would be materially easier to find such jurors on May 23, 2023,” he said.
Will Mr. Trump attend the trial?
In a court filing last week, Mr. Trump said he should not attend the trial because he did not want to “burden” New York.
In a letter to Manhattan Federal Court Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday, Mr Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said the former president “desires” to attend the civil trial, which begins next week – but is concerned about the “logistical and financial burdens ” from his attendance at “the court and New York”.
Meanwhile, Ms. Carroll plans to attend the trial.