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What we know about E Jean Carroll’s rape allegations against Donald Trump

Having claimed that Donald Trump raped her in a New York department store in the late 1990s, E Jean Carroll has spent years trying to sue Donald Trump for defamation after he publicly accused her of lying about the alleged incident.

Ms Carroll filed her suit in November 2019, five months after she came forward with her allegation that Mr Trump raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s.

The suit alleges Mr Trump defamed Ms Carroll when he responded to her allegation by accusing her of lying in a bid to bolster sales of her forthcoming book.

After multiple attempts by Mr Trump to delay the case, both he and Ms Carroll sat for depositions last fall.

Then, Ms Carroll filed a new lawsuit against Mr Trump under a New York law that allows sexual assault survivors a chance to bring civil suits after the statute of limitations has expired on alleged offences. The new case accuses him of battery – and also adds a new defamation claim based on recent posts in which he called her a “con job”.

The battery and defamation case is now set to go to trial beginning on 25 April.

Here’s what you need to know about the case:

What are Carroll’s rape allegations against Trump?

Ms Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle, first aired her allegations against Mr Trump in an excerpt from her book What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal that was published by New York magazine in June 2019.

She claimed the rape took place in a dressing room in the high-end Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman in 1996 when she randomly bumped into Mr Trump.

Ms Carroll, who was a TV talk show host at the time, said Mr Trump recognised her and they chatted, with him asking her for help picking out a gift for a woman.

She said he took her to the lingerie section of the store and asked her to try on an item in the dressing room, where he allegedly pinned her up against a wall and sexually assaulted her for three minutes.

Ms Carroll said the emergence of the #MeToo movement in late 2017 motivated her to tell her story publicly.

How did Trump respond?

Mr Trump has staunchly and repeatedly denied Ms Carroll’s allegations.

His first denial came at a White House press conference, during which he said he had “never met her” and that “she’s not my type”.

He accused her of lying to try to sell her memoir, which featured details of the alleged assault.

“She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation,” the then-president said, adding that her book “should be sold in the fiction section”.

Ms Carroll pushed back on his claims, sharing a photo of herself and Mr Trump together with his then-wife Ivana Trump and her then-husband John Johnson at an NBC party in 1987 to show they had met.

What does Carroll’s lawsuit allege?

Ms Carroll’s suit asserts that statements made by Mr Trump in response to the allegations caused her “to suffer reputational, emotional, and professional harm”.

It says Ms Carroll wants “to obtain redress for those injuries and to demonstrate that even a man as powerful as Trump can be held accountable under the rule of law”.

As part of the lawsuit, Ms Carroll’s legal team is seeking a DNA sample from Mr Trump that can be compared to DNA from skin cells on the dress she was wearing on the day of the alleged rape.

E Jean Carroll lawyers included this photo of the dress she was wearing on the day of the alleged rape in the lawsuit against Donald Trump (New York State Supreme Court)
E Jean Carroll lawyers included this photo of the dress she was wearing on the day of the alleged rape in the lawsuit against Donald Trump (New York State Supreme Court)

Case fraught with attempts to delay

Ms Carroll’s case against Mr Trump has been slow-moving – both due to coronavirus-related court delays and repeated attempts by the defendant to have it thrown out.

In the fall of 2020, at the tail end of his presidency, Mr Trump’s lawyers sought help from the Department of Justice, which asked the judge to shield him from liability because he was acting in an official capacity as president when he made statements about Ms Carroll. That bid was denied.

In September 2021, Mr Trump lost another request to delay the case as they awaited a decision from an appeals court.

His legal team took up yet another approach in February of last year, when they moved to countersue Ms Carroll.

But US District Judge Kaplan blocked that bid in a scathing decision on 11 March 2022, where he said Mr Trump’s continuing attempts to delay the 2019 case were “futile” and in “bad faith”.

“The defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that readily could have been far less,” Judge Kaplan wrote.

“Granting leave to amend without considering the futility of the proposed amendment needlessly would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay.”

Letting Mr Trump countersue “would make a regrettable situation worse,” the judge added.

Mr Trump’s defence team revealed in February 2022 that the former president would testify in his defense. His attorneys also plan to call CNN’s Anderson Cooper and New York Magazine’s David Haskill for witness testimony.

The former president also agreed to produce his DNA for use in the case, but only after the deadline for the case had passed.

Mr Trump’s made a new attempt to delay in the fall of 2022, asking for a stay of discovery.

But that attempt was rejected by Judge Kaplan, paving the way for Mr Trump to sit for a deposition on 19 October.

In advance of the October deposition, Alina Habba, his attorney, told The Associated Press in a statement: “We look forward to establishing on the record that this case is, and always has been, entirely without merit.”

In his ruling, Judge Kaplan wrote that “the defendant should not be permitted to run the clock out on plaintiff’s attempt to gain a remedy for what allegedly was a serious wrong,” and cited the “advanced age” of the parties. MrTrump is 76 years old and Ms Carroll is 78.

Trump’s deposition unsealed

The former president repeatedly attacked Ms Carroll during his deposition, which was unsealed on Friday 13 January.

The former president described Ms Carroll as a “nut job” and rejected claims that he assaulted her in the dressing room of a luxury department store in New York City in the mid -1990s.

“She said that I did something to her that never took place,” Mr Trump said in testimony taken under oath that was made public on Friday.

Mr Trump also used the deposition to brag about the success of his Truth Social platform.

The one-term president boasted about the number of users on his “hot” social media site he set up after being kicked off Twitter and Facebook in the newly unsealed deposition.

Mr Trump was asked by lawyers if he had around 4 million followers on Truth Social.

“I don’t know the number. I know Truth Social is doing very well. I think it was number one ahead of TikTok, number one ahead of Twitter, number one ahead of Instagram and everyone else for the last number of days. I just noticed that. Somebody put it on my desk. They have the ratings, and they said Truth Social is hot,” Mr Trump replied, the record shows.

Mr Trump also threatened to sue the lawyer representing Ms Carroll.

“There’s something wrong with her (Carroll) in my opinion,” he said during the October 2022 deposition, according to the transcript.

He continued: “But it’s a false accusation. Never happened, never would happen. And I posted and I will continue to post until such time as – and then I will sue her after this is over, and that’s the thing I really look forward to doing.

“And I’ll sue you too because this is – how many cases do you have? Many, many cases, and I know the statements that were made – that you made. ‘Keep Trump busy because this is the way you defeat him, to keep him busy with litigation’. So I will be suing you, also, but I’ll be suing her very strongly as soon as this case ends.”

On Friday 13 January, Judge Kaplan said in a decision denying the motion that Mr Trump’s argument was “absurd”.

Trump seeks four-week delay in trial

On 12 April, Mr Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, sought to delay the defamation and battery case by four weeks.

The case was set to go on trial this month but Mr Tacopina is arguing the recent media attention surrounding Mr Trump’s indictment on 34 criminal charges makes fairness impossible.

“President Trump can only receive a fair trial in a calmer media environment than the one created by the New York County District Attorney,” Mr Tacopina wrote in a letter to the judge asking for a four-week delay,” Mr Tacopin said in a letter.

Mr Tacopina suggested jurors may have criminal allegations at the top of their minds.