E Jean Carroll testified in court against Donald Trump

The former columnist who sued Donald Trump for sexual assault nearly 30 years ago said he filed the lawsuit “to get his life back.” E Jean Carroll, in a civil rape and defamation trial in New York, stated that after the assault charge he could not have a romantic life. Carroll claims that Trump molested her in a Manhattan department store in 1996.

He consistently denied her accusations, calling them “fiction”. “I came here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn’t happen,” Carroll said in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday. “He lied and ruined my reputation and I’m here to get my life back.”

Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, said their encounter started with her rambling joke after Trump approached her at her Bergdorf Goodman and asked if she could help her buy a gift for a friend.

She said her joke quickly changed when Trump asked her to try underwear and followed her into her dressing room. Once inside her, she claimed he closed the door, pinned her to a wall, and raped her. “As I sit here today, I still feel it,” she said in court. She said she tried to push Trump away, saying it was clear she didn’t want that to happen.

The “extremely painful” encounter was over within minutes, she said, and she quickly left the department store. In the years since, she has felt guilty about her decision to enter the dressing room, Ms Caroll said on Wednesday. Ms Carroll said she told two friends about the attack, who gave conflicting advice about whether she should go public with her story.

In his questioning, Ms Carroll’s lawyer seemed to anticipate questions she may face from Mr Trump’s team, including whether she was motivated to sue the former president for political reasons. Ms Carroll, who has voted only for Democratic candidates, said she was not.

Mr Trump, who is running for president in 2024, has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.

On Wednesday, he took issue with the account in a series of posts on his social media website, calling it a “fraudulent and false story.” Didn’t she scream? No witnesses? Did she see anyone? he wrote.

Trump’s message came to the attention of US District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan before witnesses came forward. The judge rebuked Trump’s legal team for the client’s actions, calling the post “a public statement that at first glance seems completely inappropriate.”

Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, told the judge that he would “ask the client to refrain from further disclosure in this case.” It was unclear as of Wednesday if the former president plans to stand trial in the case, which is expected to last for two weeks. Carol, 79, will likely return to the podium on Thursday for cross-examination. She is seeking unspecified damages from 76-year-old Trump.

In 2022, New York passed the Adult Victims Act. The law gave victims one year to file sexual harassment claims in the state for claims that exceed the statutory statute of limitations.

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