Content warning: This article contains discussion of rape and sexual assault.
Jury selection is scheduled to start on 25 April in a civil trial pitting Donald Trump against E. Jean Carroll. Carroll, formerly a prominent American columnist, has accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s.
The 79-year-old says Trump sexually assaulted her in a New York department store. She also claims that he then defamed her after she went public with the allegations years later.
Cases pile up against Trump
Trump denies the allegations. However, he’s also facing a slew of other legal woes that threaten to derail his 2024 run for a second term in the White House.
The start of the trial comes just weeks after Trump’s historic arraignment on criminal charges related to hush-money paid just before the 2016 election to an adult movie star. This meant that he became the first sitting or former president to have ever been charged with a crime.
Carroll worked as a columnist for Elle magazine. She says she was raped by Trump in the changing room at the luxury Bergdorf Goodman department store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The attack allegedly came after Trump asked Carroll for shopping advice.
She first made the allegation in an excerpt from her book published by New York Magazine in 2019. Trump responded at the time by saying he had never met Carroll, that she was “not my type”, and that she was “totally lying.”
Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in 2019. She was unable to include the rape claim because the statute of limitations for the alleged offense had expired.
However, a new law took effect in New York in November 2022. It gives redress to sexual assault victims decades after attacks may have occurred, giving them a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers even if the abuse occurred long ago.
Lawyers working for Carroll filed a new suit that accused Trump of battery, “when he forcibly raped and groped” her. The suit also included defamation for a post that Trump made on his Truth Social platform. There, he denied the alleged rape and referred to Carroll as a “complete con job”.
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for psychological harm, pain and suffering, loss of dignity, and damage to Carroll’s reputation. Trump is not expected to testify. Carroll’s lawyers have said they do not intend to call him to the witness stand.
The former president is also being investigated over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state of Georgia, his alleged mishandling of classified documents taken from the White House, and his involvement in the storming of the US Capitol on 6 Januar 2021.
Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse
Featured image via Youtube/ NBC News