Writer tells jury in trial: ‘Donald Trump raped me’


NEW YORK (AP) — At first, she thought helping Donald Trump buy a gift of women’s lingerie at an upscale department store would just be “a funny New York thing.”

Even when, according to E. Jean Carroll, the then-businessman beckoned her to a dressing room as they dared each other to try on a see-through bodysuit, she envisioned something like a “Saturday Night Live” that he wrote.

But soon, “my whole reason for living at that point was to get out of that room,” Carroll testified Wednesday in her rape trial.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen. He lied to me and ruined my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back,” Carroll told jurors.

As he took the stand to give testimony that at times brought tears to his eyes, Trump, from afar, repeated his insistence that Carroll’s claim of a 1996 rape was a complete fabrication. He called the case “a made up scam” and more.

“This is a fraudulent and false story – the Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social. His comments prompted the judge to warn Trump’s lawyers that they could bring more legal trouble on him.

Trump has so far not attended the trial, but his lawyers said Tuesday that he may still decide to testify.

The trial comes as Trump again seeks the Republican nomination for president and weeks after pleading not guilty to unrelated criminal charges involving payments made to silence a porn actor who said he had a sexual encounter with him.

Carroll, a 79-year-old former advice columnist, was largely matter-of-fact on the witness stand — so much so that, after crying as she told jurors she “could make my day in court is everything to me,” she quickly calmed down and refused to take a break.

“I’m not going to sit here and cry and waste everybody’s time,” she said.

Carroll testified that she crossed paths with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman’s revolving door on an unspecified Thursday night in the spring of 1996. At the time, she was writing a long-running advice column in Elle magazine, having also written for “SNL.” Trump was a real estate magnate and social figure in New York.

She said he asked her for advice on choosing a gift for a woman and she was happy to oblige. As an advice columnist, having Trump ask for gift guidance “was a wonderful prospect,” and Carroll thought it would make for a funny story, she said.

She confessed that she suggested a hat, but he gravitated to underwear, and soon they were making fun of bodysuits. Amused and flirtatious, she went, laughing even as he closed the dressing room door, maybe even as he pushed her against a wall.

But then, she claims, Trump slammed his mouth against hers, pulled off her panties and pushed his hand and then his penis into her as she struggled against him. She said he eventually knocked him off her and ran away.

Carroll said that for decades, she told no one but two friends because she was afraid Trump would retaliate, because she “thought it was my fault” and because she believed many people gave blame the rape victims for what happened to them.

The alleged attack happened long before the #MeToo movement forced a reckoning with how victims of sexual assault are treated by law enforcement and the public. Carroll said #MeToo fueled her decision to come forward in a 2019 memoir and accompanying magazine excerpt.

The Associated Press typically doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted unless they come forward, as Carroll did.

Trump, 76, said he was not at the store with Carroll and had no idea who she was when he first aired the story publicly. He said she “completely lied” and called the case a “scam,” a “lie” and a “complete scam.”

Trump’s comments launched an “amazing” onslaught of hateful and occasionally threatening messages directed at her, according to Carroll, whose lawsuit also includes a defamation claim.

As the trial was about to begin Wednesday, Trump used Truth Social to again express his feelings about the case and alluded to a DNA issue that Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled could not be part of the case .

He was not satisfied.

Trump, the judge said, appeared to be addressing his supporters and the jury “about things they don’t talk about.” Kaplan called Trump’s post “a public statement that, at first glance, seems completely inappropriate.”

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina noted that jurors are being told not to follow any news or online commentary about the trial. But he said he would ask Trump “to refrain from any further postings about this case.”

“I hope you have more success,” Kaplan said, adding that Trump “may or may not amend a new source of potential liability.”

Carroll is scheduled to continue testifying Thursday, when Trump’s lawyers will likely have a chance to cross-examine her. Her federal lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a retraction of her allegedly defamatory comments. She never pursued criminal charges.

Meanwhile, the judge ruled Wednesday that the lawsuit will not look into funding Carroll’s lawyers received from American Future Republic, an organization funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Trump’s lawyers argued that the money raised questions about Carroll’s credibility. Kaplan concluded that there was “nothing there,” and after hearing that Trump’s son Eric had just tweeted criticism of the funding, he again advised Tacopina to talk to Donald Trump.

Tacopina claimed Carroll sued to get money and try to politically punish Trump. Carroll, a registered Democrat, testified that she voted for her Democratic opponents in 2016 and 2020, but said that had nothing to do with her lawsuit.

“I’m not setting a political outcome at all,” she said. “I set a personal score.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *