Jury selection has begun in a civil trial concerning allegations that former US President Donald Trump sexually assaulted writer E. Jean Carroll in a New York department store three decades ago. Carroll has also accused Trump of defamation after he denied her allegations.
Trump faces a slew of legal challenges, including criminal charges related to a hush-money payment made to a porn star. Carroll initially sued Trump for defamation in 2019 but was unable to include the rape claim because the statute of limitations for the alleged offense had expired.
However, a new law in New York came into effect in November 2020, which gave victims of sexual assault a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers decades after attacks may have occurred. Lawyers for Carroll filed a new lawsuit that accused Trump of battery and defamation for denying the alleged rape and referring to Carroll as a “complete con job” in a post on his Truth Social platform.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for “significant pain and suffering, lasting psychological and pecuniary harms, loss of dignity and self-esteem, and invasion of her privacy.” The trial is likely to last between one to two weeks.
Carroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine, alleges that Trump raped her in the changing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996, after he asked her for advice on buying a women’s lingerie gift. Trump has denied the allegations and said he has never met Carroll, that she was “not my type” and that she was “totally lying.”
The trial in Manhattan is not expected to result in criminal prosecution, but if Trump loses, it will be the first time he has been held legally liable for an allegation of sexual assault. Around a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, but he has denied all the allegations and has never been prosecuted over any of them.
Trump has provided sworn testimony in the case, but he is not expected to take the witness stand during the trial as Carroll’s lawyers have said they do not intend to call him.
In addition to this trial, Trump is facing other legal challenges, including investigations into his alleged mishandling of classified documents taken from the White House, his involvement in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state of Georgia.
The criminal charges related to the hush-money payment made to a porn star propelled Trump to become the first sitting or former president to have ever been charged with a crime. He pleaded not guilty to 34 counts. The outcome of these various legal challenges could have significant implications for Trump’s potential run for a second presidential term in 2024.