Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday for a civil trial over a longtime magazine columnist’s claim that Donald Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. The trial, which will take place in Manhattan federal court, adds to the mounting legal troubles for Trump.
Here’s what to know about the case.
Who is E. Jean Carroll and what does she allege?
E. Jean Carroll is a writer who was an advice columnist for Elle Magazine for many years. She alleges that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room of luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. In her lawsuit, she says Trump attacked her inside a dressing room in the lingerie department, where he “seized both of her arms” and then “jammed his hand under her coatdress and pulled down her tights.” After unzipping his pants, “Trump then pushed his fingers around Carroll’s genitals and forced his penis inside of her,” according to the lawsuit.
What does Trump say about her accusations?
Trump says the incident “never happened” and that Carroll’s allegation is fabricated. He said in 2019 that he had “never met this person in my life” and that she was motivated to make up the claim against him in order to sell a book in which she described the alleged assault. Last year on his social media site, he again accused her of promoting a “hoax” and said that, “while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!”
What is Carroll asking for?
Carroll is asking for unspecified damages for battery and defamation and for Trump to retract the 2022 statement he made on his social media site.
Why isn’t this a criminal case?
Carroll never contacted the police at the time of the alleged incident and, according to her, told only two friends about it before going public with her claims decades later, in 2019. By that point, the criminal statute of limitations had expired long ago.
How can Carroll sue over an incident that took place more than two decades ago? What about the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations for people to bring civil lawsuits over sexual assault in New York is generally three years. But in 2022, New York passed the Adult Survivors Act, which opened a one-year window — from Nov. 24, 2022, to Nov. 24, 2023 — for people to sue their alleged assailants even if the statute of limitations had expired. Carroll filed her lawsuit within minutes of the law taking effect on Nov. 24, 2022.
Will Trump testify?
It’s unlikely. Carroll hasn’t indicated she will call him as a witness. He could testify in his own defense, but his lawyers have indicated he is unlikely to attend the trial. He was deposed in this case, so lawyers for both Carroll and Trump can use his deposition as evidence.
Is there any chance of an out-of-court settlement?
Lawyers for Carroll and Trump haven’t indicated in court filings that there has been any discussion of an out-of-court settlement. Such an outcome is always possible, however, even at the last minute, as evidenced by the recent settlement between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News. That agreement was announced the day opening statements were set to begin in the defamation trial.
Is anyone paying for Carroll’s legal fees?
Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, is helping pay for Carroll’s lawsuit, according to court filings. Hoffman, a major Democratic donor, has helped pay for “certain costs and fees,” said Carroll’s lawyers, who added that their client wasn’t involved in obtaining outside funding. Trump’s lawyers sought to delay the trial after they learned of the third-party funding, saying it raised questions about her credibility and motivations. The judge didn’t allow a delay, but did permit them to question Carroll about the financing.
How long will the trial last?
Lawyers for Carroll and Trump have indicated in court filings that they believe the trial will last between one and two weeks.
Will the trial be televised?
No. The trial is in federal court, which doesn’t permit cameras.