WASHINGTON – Another unprecedented event in the age of donald trump: A former president in a civil lawsuit centering on rape allegations.
Attorneys delivered bracing opening arguments Tuesday in the civil case of E.Jean Carrolla writer who said Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store in 1996. She has sued the former president for defamation.
Carroll’s case, which began Tuesday with jury selection and opening arguments, has taken a winding path that spanned years and an attempt by Trump’s former attorney general to throw out the lawsuit before opening arguments could even take place.
When Carroll broke his silence on Trump in a 2019 memoir, the then-president “used the most powerful platform in the world to lie about what he had done, attack Ms. Carroll’s integrity and insult her appearance,” attorney Shawn said. Crowley to the newly selected. jury.
Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina told the jury, six men, three women, that Carroll tells lies about Trump for financial gain and political revenge.
The case is an “affront to justice,” he said.
The trial is expected to last up to two weeks, but some issues are already clear:
Trump is not on trial on a criminal rape charge
Carroll’s lawsuit accuses Trump of defamation: lying about her after she wrote about the alleged rape in a 2019 memoir.
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Because this is a civil case, Trump is not at risk of a criminal conviction for sexual assault; it’s a potential civil lawsuit against him for millions of dollars, based on lurid evidence.
In a post in October, Trump said on his Truth Social social media site that Carroll was “a complete scam” and that he couldn’t have assaulted her because he was “not my type.”
Citing that comment during his opening argument, Crowley told jurors that everyone knows what Trump meant: “He was saying she was too ugly to assault her.” according to a reporter at the trial, it’s not being televised.
The plaintiff’s attorney also noted that, in a statement, Trump mistook a photo of Carroll for one of his ex-wife Marla Maples.
Tacopina accused her of continuing the case for reasons of money, status and politics.
Trump does not plan to attend the trial; carroll does
The defendant does not have to be at the trial, and Trump’s lawyers have said the former president does not plan to appear in court.
Carroll’s lawyers have indicated they do not plan to call Trump as a witness; Trump may be able to travel and witness on his own behalf, but no one expects that.
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There will be graphic testimony against Trump
Carroll attended opening statements and is expected to testify, graphic testimony that will likely be the most publicized part of the trial. During her opening remarks, Crowley said that Trump “put” her hand into Carroll’s dress before raping her.
The plaintiff’s lawyers are also expected to call other women to the stand to discuss Trump’s inappropriate behavior.
quoting Trump’s Notorious Comments about grabbing women by the genitals, which came up during the 2016 presidential campaign, attorney Crowley told jurors that is “exactly what he did” to Carroll and other women.
Trump has repeatedly said that his accusers are lying about him for political reasons.
No televised testimony
Like the jury selection and opening statements, the trial itself will not be televised.
Interested parties will have to rely on courthouse reporters to broadcast the proceedings.
This lawsuit stems from a new law.
Why is this coming up now? Because New York State passed a law last year that allows sexual assault victims to sue their attackers, no matter how long the incident has been going on.
Carroll, who filed an initial lawsuit against Trump in 2019, filed a second lawsuit in November under New York’s new Adult Survivors Law. She gave abuse victims a one-year window to file lawsuits, even if the statute of limitation has been exhausted for any potential crimes.
Jury selection took place amid tight security at the courthouse and beyond.
U.S. District Judge Lew Kaplan ordered that the names of the potential jurors be withheld from the public. He assigned numbers to the jury nominees instead of placing their names on the public record.
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Searching for a jury of six to 12 members, Kaplan asked jurors if they had attended a Trump rally or if they believed the 2020 election was stolen. No one said yes to those questions.
The judge also warned the parties to the lawsuit to avoid public statements that could incite violence or civil unrest.
the trump campaign
Trump is expected to campaign throughout the trial; he has a rally scheduled for Thursday night in New Hampshire.
He is expected to include Carroll’s lawsuit in the numerous criminal investigations against him. he has already been accused in New York City for false reports in the payment of secret money to a former lover.
Trump also faces three other grand jury investigations: Efforts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in Georgia; his handling of classified information after leaving office; and his performance before and during the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York jury to decide whether Donald Trump raped and defamed E. Jean Carroll