Donald Trump faces the first of three major legal cases in his home state this week. The civil rape lawsuit, brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, is set to go to trial after five years of waiting for a panel of New Yorkers.
Jury selection begins on Tuesday at Manhattan federal court, where Carroll has accused Trump of sexual battery and defamation.
Trump is already facing criminal charges for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, as well as a $250 million financial fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Carroll alleges that Trump raped her in a changing room at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Ave. in 1995 or 1996, after he asked for her help in selecting lingerie.
According to the details of Carroll’s case, she and Trump were part of the same high society media circles at the time of the alleged rape. Carroll hosted “Ask E. Jean TV” on Roger Ailes’ “America’s Talking” network, while Trump was establishing his family real estate business and reputation as a prominent figure in New York City.
The lawsuit claims that what began as “playful banter” took a dark turn when Trump suggested Carroll try on a see-through bodysuit.
Carroll alleges that, while they were in the dressing rooms, Trump pushed her against a wall, causing her head to bump against it twice. He then pulled down her tights and raped her, which lasted for two to three minutes. Trump’s denial of these allegations has resulted in defamation claims, with Carroll accusing him of slandering her name by calling her a liar both during and after his presidency.
During the trial, jurors will hear from two of Carroll’s friends whom she confided in after the alleged assault. These include author and correspondent Lisa Birnbach, whom Carroll contacted immediately after the incident, and Carol Martin, a longtime news anchor to whom she disclosed the assault a few days later.
Birnbach encouraged Carroll to report the assault, but Martin advised her against it.
“Tell no one. Forget it! He has two hundred lawyers. He’ll bury you,” Martin is quoted in the suit.
“Carroll took Martin’s advice. She knew how brutal and dangerous Trump could be. Carroll was also afraid of being dragged through the mud if she reported the rape. She was convinced that nobody would believe her if she came forward. And like so many other survivors of sexual assault, Carroll also blamed herself,” reads the suit.
Carroll says she was never intimate with a man again after the alleged assault.
During the trial, jurors will hear from two of the many women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. One of them is Natasha Stoynoff, who alleged that during a December 2005 interview for People magazine at Mar-a-Lago, Trump pushed her against a wall and forced his tongue into her mouth.
The other is Jessica Leeds, who claimed that Trump groped her on a flight to New York in the 1980s by grabbing her breast and putting his hand up her skirt while they were seated next to each other.
Despite these accusations, Trump has denied all allegations of sexual assault.
In June 2019, Carroll made the decision to come forward with her story following a surge of women who spoke out about the abuse they had experienced at the hands of powerful men, and the increased societal attention on the issue.
New York Magazine helped bring attention to her claims by publishing an excerpt from her book titled “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.”
In response to the allegations revealed in Carroll’s book, Trump lashed out, telling The Hill: “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?”
After a long wait, the 79-year-old Carroll will finally have her day in court. This is the second of two lawsuits she has filed against Trump, which she initiated in November.
It is the first lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act. Trump’s vehement denials led to Carroll’s first lawsuit in 2019, which is running simultaneously to the case going to trial.
During that time, then-President Trump argued that he could not be sued due to his status as president.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presides over both lawsuits, disagreed with Trump’s argument in October 2020, finding it “would mean that a president is free to defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character.” d.[..]”.
Trump’s appeal of that decision is still playing out.
It is unknown whether Trump will attend the trial, but Carroll will be present. The jury will view the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, where Trump boasted of his ability to sexually assault women due to his celebrity status.
Additionally, Trump’s deposition, where he insulted Carroll’s appearance and called her a “wack job” and “nut job,” will be played by Carroll’s attorneys.
The jurors, whose identities will be kept confidential, will determine Trump’s liability. Judge Kaplan ruled that the jurors’ anonymity is necessary due to the potential danger of Trump’s comments toward individuals who recently indicted him.