The writer suing Donald Trump for allegedly raping her nearly 30 years ago began testifying on Wednesday at a civil trial, telling jurors the former U.S. president sexually assaulted her and defamed her by lying about it.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn’t happen,” E. Jean Carroll said in Manhattan federal court. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”
Carroll, 79, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, is seeking unspecified damages from Trump, who leads the Republican field in the 2024 presidential campaign.
She is suing over an alleged encounter in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996.
Carroll has said that after making small talk with Trump as he sought help in buying lingerie for another woman, Trump maneuvered her into the dressing room.
Once there, Trump shut the door, forced her against a wall and raped her, until she was able to flee after two or three minutes, Carroll has said.
Trump, 76, is not attending the trial, nor is he required to be there.
But Trump stood by his criticism of Carroll in two posts on Wednesday on his Truth Social platform, prompting the judge to warn he could face more legal problems if he kept discussing the case.
“Does anybody believe that I would take a then almost 60 year old woman that I didn’t know, from the front door of a very crowded department store, (with me being very well known, to put it mildly!), into a tiny dressing room,” Trump wrote. “She didn’t scream? There are no witnesses? Nobody saw this?”
Trump also called Carroll’s accusations “a made up SCAM” and said: “This is a fraudulent & false story–Witch Hunt!”
His posts prompted U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to tell Trump’s legal team, outside the jury’s presence, that Trump appeared to be “endeavoring, certainly, to speak to his quote-unquote public” and to the jury about matters that have “no business being spoken about.”
The judge added that Trump could be “tampering with a new source of liability” if he continued.
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told the judge he would speak with Trump on Wednesday, and “ask him to refrain from any further posts on this case…. I will do the best I can do.”
Carroll is suing Trump for defamation after he denied her rape claim in an October post on Truth Social.
She is also suing under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which lets adults sue their alleged abusers long after statutes of limitations have run out.
A six-man, three-woman jury is expected to decide whether to hold Trump liable for damages, and, if so, how much he owes Carroll in damages.
The trial is expected to last one to two weeks.
Other possible witnesses for Carroll include two friends in whom she confided about Trump’s alleged rape, and two other women who have accused Trump of sexual assault.
In her opening statement on Tuesday, Shawn Crowley, one of Carroll’s lawyers, told jurors that the evidence made the trial more than a “he said, she said” dispute.
In his opening statement, Tacopina countered that the evidence was not there, and that if jurors in heavily Democratic Manhattan did not like Trump, they should express themselves at the ballot box, not in court.