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Trump may soon have to answer rape allegations under oath

WorldFeb 23, 2021 11:45AM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump rape accuser E. Jean Carroll arrives for her hearing at federal court 2/3

By Linda So

(Reuters) - During a December visit to New York City, writer E. Jean Carroll says she went shopping with a fashion consultant to find the “best outfit” for one of the most important days of her life - when she’ll sit face-to-face with the man she accuses of raping her decades ago, former President Donald Trump.

The author and journalist hopes that day will come this year. Her lawyers are seeking to depose Trump in a defamation lawsuit that Carroll filed against the former president in November 2019 after he denied her accusation that he raped her at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump said he never knew Carroll and accused her of lying to sell her new book, adding: “She’s not my type.”

She plans to be there if Trump is deposed.

“I am living for the moment to walk into that room to sit across the table from him,” Carroll told Reuters in an interview. “I think of it everyday.”

Carroll, 77, a former Elle magazine columnist, seeks unspecified damages in her lawsuit and a retraction of Trump’s statements. It is one of two defamation cases involving sexual misconduct allegations against Trump that could move forward faster now that he has left the presidency. While in office, Trump’s lawyers delayed the case in part by arguing that the pressing duties of his office made responding to civil lawsuits impossible.

“The only barrier to proceeding with the civil suits was that he’s the president,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor and now an adjunct professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law.

“I think there will be a sense among the judges that it’s time to get a move on in these cases,” said Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney.

An attorney for Trump and another representative of the former president did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump faces a similar defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice.” In 2016, Zervos accused Trump of sexual misconduct, saying that he kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later groped her at a California hotel as the two met to discuss job opportunities.

Trump denied the allegations and called Zervos a liar, prompting her to sue him for defamation in 2017, seeking damages and a retraction. Trump tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing that, as president, he was immune from suits filed in state courts. His lawyers appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, which is still considering the case. Zervos filed a motion in early February asking the court to resume the case now that Trump’s no longer president.

Zervos and Carroll are among more than two dozen women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct that they say occurred in the years before he became president. Other accusers include a former model who claims Trump sexually assaulted her at the 1997 U.S. Open tennis tournament; a former Miss Universe pageant contestant who said Trump groped her in 2006; and a reporter who alleges Trump forcibly kissed her without her consent in 2005 at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Trump has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated.

In September, after several unsuccessful attempts by Trump’s lawyers to get Carroll’s case dismissed or delayed, U.S. Justice Department officials under his administration took the unusual step of asking that the government be substituted for Trump as the defendant in the case. Justice Department lawyers argued that Trump, like any typical government employee, is entitled under federal law to immunity from civil lawsuits when performing his job. They argued that he was acting in his capacity as president when he said Carroll was lying.

Legal experts said it was unprecedented for the Justice Department to defend a president for conduct before he took office. When Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected that argument, the Justice Department appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has yet to rule on it.

It’s yet to be seen whether Justice Department officials under President Joe Biden, who took office last month, will continue to defend the case on Trump’s behalf. The White House and the Justice Department declined to comment.

If the appeals court upholds Judge Kaplan’s decision, it would likely clear the way for Trump to be deposed by Carroll’s lawyers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE DNA

Carroll’s lawyers are also seeking a DNA sample from Trump. Carroll says she still has the dress she was wearing when Trump allegedly attacked her.

“I hung it in my closet,” she said.

Carroll said she randomly crossed paths with Trump in the Bergdorf Goodman’s store in the mid-1990s. Carroll, who hosted a TV talk show at the time, said Trump recognized her. The two chatted, she said. Trump asked her to pick out a gift for an unidentified woman, and they eventually ended up in the lingerie department. After asking her to try on a body suit, Trump closed the door in a dressing room, pinned her against a wall, unzipped his pants and sexually assaulted her, according to the complaint.

Carroll said she told two friends about the alleged attack shortly after it happened, but did not report Trump to police, fearing retribution from the wealthy and well-connected businessman. Decades later, Carroll went public with her story in a June 2019 New York magazine article, adapted from a new book, “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.”

She said she was inspired to recount the incident by the #MeToo movement, which emboldened women to share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment. In photos shot for that story, Kaplan, at the request of the magazine’s photography director, wore the same black Donna Karan dress that she said she had worn on the day that Trump allegedly assaulted her.

When Carroll filed her lawsuit later in 2019, her lawyer, Kaplan, had a guard escort her to retrieve the dress from her closet for forensic testing. An analysis concluded no semen was found on the dress, but the DNA of an unidentified male was detected on the shoulder and sleeves, according to the Jan. 8, 2020 lab report, which was reviewed by Reuters.

If the dress does contain traces of Trump’s DNA, it would not prove his guilt. But a match could be used as evidence that he had contact with the dress and to help disprove his claims that he never met Carroll, according to two forensic experts not involved in the case.

“How his DNA got on that dress would be the argument,” said Monte Miller, a biochemist who runs a DNA analysis consultancy and previously worked at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s State Crime Laboratory (NYSE:LH). “It’s for the attorneys and the courts and everybody else to argue about why it’s there and how it got there.”

Carroll said she’s confident the DNA on the dress belongs to Trump and wants her day in court. She said she now sleeps with a gun next to her bed because she has received death threats since publicly accusing Trump.

“This defamation suit is not about me,” said Carroll, who meets regularly with other women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. It’s about every woman “who can’t speak up.” (This story refiles to fix Carroll name reference in sixth paragraph from bottom)

Trump may soon have to answer rape allegations under oath
 

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Comments (8)
Red Riley
Red Riley Feb 24, 2021 8:57PM ET
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how about cuomo
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Feb 24, 2021 5:22AM ET
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Trump said he never knew Carroll and accused her of lying to sell her new book, adding: “She’s not my type.”  -- so he would have done it if she was his type?
Me comment
Me comment Feb 23, 2021 9:08PM ET
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trump is going down cause he went down to many time and finally will get caught.
Dusty Owen
Dusty Owen Feb 23, 2021 12:11PM ET
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Yea, this lady is nuts. She went on cnn and talked how she thought ********was hot. Cnn dropped the story after that. Shes looking for a settlement to keep it out of court. If it goes to court shes going to lose and likely face defamation herself.
Dusty Owen
Dusty Owen Feb 23, 2021 12:11PM ET
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Evidently *****is a bad word on here
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Feb 23, 2021 12:11PM ET
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so you are against nutcases filing frivolous lawsuits?  have you met Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell?
James Thacker
quienes_tu_papa Feb 23, 2021 8:16AM ET
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eventually they ended up in the lingerie department and she tried on a body suit for him. what did she expect to happen. if you have ever watched the show friends you probably know the europe story, for when you want to have s*x.  ross knew the story that rachel was telling so he went ahead and went for it, then she said he came on to her.  from the story above appears to be the same situation. "Hey Don, let's go over to the lingerie department, there's something I want to show you."  I mean, I think he is disgusting, but ladies, as a guy, if you act like a tramp, there is a high probability you will get treated like one.  It doesn't even sound like she was mad about it until dt ran as a rep. wrong side apparently on the political coin I guess.
Kwong To
Kwong To Feb 23, 2021 7:48AM ET
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Hope to see that mf in jail.
taylor jason
taylor jason Feb 23, 2021 7:48AM ET
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waste of time. we are past the statute of limitations...
William Smith
William Smith Feb 23, 2021 7:05AM ET
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Quit reading when I saw "decades ago". These people and their lawyers are the ones that need prosecuted.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Feb 23, 2021 7:05AM ET
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Maybe you missed this one, 2016 is not "decades ago".... In 2016, Zervos accused Trump of sexual misconduct, saying that he kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later groped her at a California hotel as the two met to discuss job opportunities. Trump denied the allegations and called Zervos a liar, prompting her to sue him for defamation in 2017, seeking damages and a retraction. Trump tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing that, as president, he was immune from suits filed in state courts.
Vlad Lozovskiy
Vlad Lozovskiy Feb 23, 2021 6:54AM ET
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Another one.... From decades ago.
 
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