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E. Jean Carroll testifies in her lawsuit trial that Trump raped her

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll arrives to federal court in New York on Wednesday. Jurors have been seated in the trial over Carroll's claim that former President Donald Trump raped her nearly three decades ago in a department store dressing room.
Seth Wenig
/
AP
Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll arrives to federal court in New York on Wednesday. Jurors have been seated in the trial over Carroll's claim that former President Donald Trump raped her nearly three decades ago in a department store dressing room.

NEW YORK — A writer suing Donald Trump took the stand Wednesday to tell jurors that the future president raped her after she accompanied him into a department store fitting room in 1996.

"I'm here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He lied and shattered my reputation, and I'm here to try and get my life back," she testified.

Trump denies E. Jean Carroll's allegations. He hasn't attended the trial thus far, but his lawyers said Tuesday it's still possible he could decide to testify.

Carroll, 79, has said she crossed paths with Trump at the revolving door to Bergdorf Goodman on an unspecified Thursday evening in spring 1996. At the time, she was writing a long-running advice column in Elle magazine. Trump was a real estate magnate and social figure in New York.

She has said he asked her advice about selecting a gift for a woman, and she went along, thinking the experience would be funny. According to Carroll, they ended up in a lingerie department, joked with each other about who should try on a bodysuit and went to a dressing room.

Then, she alleges, Trump slammed her against a wall, yanked down her tights and raped her while she struggled against him. She has said she finally kneed him off her and fled.

Trump, 76, has said he wasn't at the store with Carroll and had no clue who she was when she first aired the story publicly in a 2019 memoir and accompanying magazine excerpt. In a post on his social media site Wednesday, he called the case a "made up scam."

"This is a fraudulent & false story — Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote in his Truth Social post.

In other developments, the judge said Trump made an "entirely inappropriate" online statement about the trial and warned the former president's lawyers that he could bring more legal problems upon himself.

As court was about to begin Wednesday, Trump — who has not attended so far — posted on his social media platform that the case "is a made-up scam."

He went on to call Carroll's lawyer "a political operative" and allude to a DNA issue that the judge has ruled can't be part of the case.

"This is a fraudulent & false story — Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote in his Truth Social post.

Lawyers for Carroll — whose suit includes claims that Trump previously defamed her by publicly calling her case a "hoax," "scam," "lie" and "complete con job" — mentioned his new statement to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. He wasn't pleased.

"What seems to be the case is that your client is basically endeavoring, certainly, to speak to his quote-unquote public, but, more troubling, the jury in this case about stuff that has no business being spoken about," the judge told Trump's lawyers. He called Trump's post "a public statement that, on the face of it, seems entirely inappropriate."

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

"I hope you're more successful," Kaplan said, adding that Trump "may or may not be tampering with a new source of potential liability."

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

Carroll's federal lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a retraction of his allegedly defamatory comments.

The suit was filed under a New York law that temporarily lets decades-old sexual abuse claims go to civil court. She never pursued criminal charges.

The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press