In a Manhattan courtroom, a jury will begin Tuesday by hearing E. Jean Carroll’s claim that former President Donald J. Trump raped her in a department store dressing room more than two decades ago, in a suit that would challenge the accountability of the #MeToo era into a dominant political figure.
The trial in Manhattan’s Federal District Court, expected to last one to two weeks, stems from a lawsuit and will take place amid a barrage of legal action against Mr Trump, who is running for president. to regain the presidency, claiming that the lawsuits and investigations are designed to bring him down.
Ms. Carroll, a former magazine columnist, said nothing publicly about the encounter for decades before publishing a memoir in 2019 accusing Mr. Trump of assaulting her.
In the suit, Ms. Carroll, 79, says she visited the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman one evening in the mid-1990s, where she shopped regularly. There, the suit says, she encountered Mr. Trump. The two had met at least once before and traveled in the same circles in New York City, the suit says. He said he was looking for a gift for “a girl” and asked her for advice. She says she eventually accompanied him to the lingerie section, where he maneuvered her into a dressing room and raped her.
Mr Trump, 76, has denied raping Ms Carroll, accusing her of lying and repeatedly attacking her in public statements and on social media, both during her term and after she left office. In 2019, after she published her account, he called her claim “totally false” and said he couldn’t have raped her because she wasn’t his “type”. Last October, he said again, in a post to Truth Social, that she was not telling the truth and that the case was a “complete scam.”
Ms. Carroll’s lawyers will ask the jury to find Mr. Trump liable for battery use, and if found responsible, to award monetary damages.
Facts about the case:
The New York state law that allowed Ms. Carroll to file her lawsuit is less than a year old. The Adult Survivors Act, passed in May 2022, gives victims of abuse a one-time opportunity to bring civil lawsuits, even if the statute of limitations has passed. Prosecutors can file lawsuits during a 12-month period that began Nov. 24. Ms. Carroll filed her lawsuit on the first day it was allowed.
Mr. Trump is not required to attend the trial and Ms. Carroll’s lawyers have made it clear they have no intention of calling him as a witness, the judge noted in a recent warrant. He might decide to testify in his own defense.
Judge Lewis Kaplan will preside over the jury selection process on Tuesday, asking his own questions of prospective jurors and others submitted by attorneys for both Ms. Carroll and the former president. Ultimately, six to twelve New Yorkers will be selected. Then the opening statements begin.