Donald Trump in civil trial again, accused of rape in the 90s
Steph Deschamps / April 28, 2023
Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been charged in a New York civil court with raping a newspaper columnist, E. Jean Carroll, in the 1990s.
Donald Trump was accused in a New York civil court on Tuesday of raping a newspaper columnist in the mid-1990s, charges that were hotly contested by his lawyer, who portrayed the former journalist as a money-grubbing, celebrity-hungry fraudster.
More than 25 years after the facts, nine jurors, six men and three women, selected Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court, will try to shed light on this case, where two diametrically opposed versions clash. Witnessing the sensitive nature of the trial, which is expected to last from five to ten days, Judge Lewis Kaplan has guaranteed that the jurors will remain anonymous, to avoid any pressure.
Since 2019, E. Jean Carroll and her lawyers claim that the former president of the United States "groped, groped and raped" her after luring her into the fitting room of a New York department store, Bergdorf Goodman, on a date she no longer remembers but is believed to be "in the spring of 1996." "The moment they got inside (the booth), everything changed. Suddenly, nothing was funny anymore", said one of the plaintiff's lawyers, Shawn Crowley, at the opening of the proceedings.
"Trump was almost twice her size," she added. The lawyer explained that the columnist had kept silent for 20 years, for fear of having her reputation destroyed by a powerful man. But in the wake of the #metoo movement, the woman who wrote in Elle magazine in the United States had decided to speak in a book in 2019.
Two friends, to whom E. Jean Carroll had confided shortly after the facts, will come to corroborate her account on the stand, promised Shawn Crowley. Donald Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, blasted "an affront to justice". "She is abusing the system for money, for political reasons and for her status," he continued, before E. Jean Carroll, 79, who stared at him.
But, aware that the figure of Donald Trump, absent at the opening of the debates, and probably throughout the trial, could cause rejection in New York, he took care to say to the jurors: "You can hate Donald Trump, that's OK (...) But not here, in a court of law.
The jury will have to determine the amount of reparations to eventually award to the writer. At 76 years old, the former tenant of the White House (2017-2021) dreams of being re-elected in November 2024, but he sees the legal cases piling up.
In early April, in a historic and unprecedented move for a former U.S. president, he was criminally indicted in New York on 34 accounting and tax fraud charges related to payments to cover up embarrassing affairs before the 2016 presidential election, including a sexual relationship with X-rated actress Stormy Daniels that he has always denied.
E. Jean Carroll had initially filed a defamation suit against the 2019 U.S. president because he had called her accusations "a complete lie," adding that she was "not his type." His lawyers had claimed that he was protected, in 2019, by his immunity as head of state.
But in November 2022, a New York State law ("Adult Survivors Act") came into force allowing, for one year, victims of sexual assaults to restart their civil proceedings, even if the facts were statute-barred.
E. Jean Carroll then filed a new civil suit for "defamation" but also "assault" and "assault". Judge Lewis Kaplan recalled that Donald Trump was not criminally prosecuted for rape, but that the "assault" could be characterized by "an unjustified touching without the consent of the person concerned ».
In testimony during the proceedings, Donald Trump reaffirmed his line of defense: "I will say this with the utmost respect: first, she is not my type; second, this never happened.
But, in front of a photo where he appeared with E. Jean Carroll at a reception years before the facts, Mr. Trump had confused his accuser with ... his former wife, the actress Marla Maples, with whom he was married from 1993 to 1999. The Republican billionaire has been accused of sexual assault by other women several times in the past, which he has always denied.