FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump rape accuser E. Jean Carroll arrives for her hearing at federal court during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo All
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Donald Trump is already the first former American president to face criminal charges. Jurors are expected to soon decide in an unrelated civil case whether he lied about committing rape.
A trial is scheduled to begin on April 25 in one of former Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s two lawsuits against Trump over his denials that he raped her in the mid-1990s.
Trump may owe damages if Carroll convinces a Manhattan federal jury it was more likely than not that he defamed her in an October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform.
There, he called Carroll’s rape claim a “Hoax and a lie” for promoting her memoir, and maintained that she was “not my type!”
Carroll is also suing for battery under a new state law in New York that gives adults a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers even if legal deadlines to sue, known as statutes of limitations, have long since passed.
Now 79, Carroll has said Trump raped her at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan in late 1995 or early 1996.
She said that after Trump asked for help in buying a gift for another woman, he “maneuvered” her into a dressing room, where he closed the door and penetrated her before she escaped.
Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in November 2019, five months after he first denied her rape claim.
She has long accused Trump of stalling, and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan has rejected multiple efforts by Trump to delay Carroll’s case.
“Trump has a strong incentive to settle the case to avoid the airing of that evidence, whether it is true or not,” said Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. Attorney in Detroit.
“Carroll may decide that she cares more about airing her story publicly than any monetary settlement can buy,” she added.
Trump is not required to defend himself in person, and will decide during the trial whether to attend, his lawyer Joe Tacopina said in a letter on Thursday. Carroll plans to attend every day.
Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, declined to comment for this article. She is unrelated to the judge. Trump’s lawyers were not available for comment.
‘I DON’T SETTLE CASES’
It was not immediately clear whether Trump, 76, who has bragged that “I don’t settle cases” although he sometimes does, would settle with Carroll.
Her case is one of several criminal and civil inquiries Trump faces. None has disturbed his status as the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race.
Last year, Trump refused to let his Trump Organization concede wrongdoing in a New York criminal tax fraud case, which ended in a conviction that is being appealed.
He also faces Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case over hush money payments to a porn star; civil fraud charges by New York Attorney General Letitia James; and inquiries into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and whether he tried to sway 2020 election results in Georgia.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
He recently hired Tacopina, a prominent outspoken lawyer, to join Alina Habba in helping defend against Carroll’s and Bragg’s cases.
At trial, they could challenge Carroll’s memory, including her inability to remember the date or even the month of the alleged attack.
And while the jury could have six to 12 members, it would take only one Trump supporter for Trump to avoid liability.
According to a Thursday court filing, Carroll estimates the trial may last five to seven days, while Trump estimates 10 to 12 days.
Carroll is expected to testify, as are two friends she spoke to soon after the alleged rape: Lisa Birnbach, who wrote “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and former New York news anchor Carol Martin.
Two women who say Trump sexually assaulted them, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, are also on Carroll’s witness list. Trump has denied their claims.
And jurors will be able to hear the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape where Trump made graphic, vulgar comments about women.
Carroll’s first lawsuit is pending.