The writer suing Donald Trump for allegedly raping her nearly 30 years ago told jurors at a civil trial on Wednesday that 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, 76, 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, where she says Trump raped her until she was able to flee.
Carroll is suing Trump for defamation after he called her rape claim a hoax, lie and “complete con job” on his Truth Social media platform, and said he had not known her, she was not his “type,” and she made up the claim to sell her memoir.
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.
Trump is not attending and not required to attend the trial, which began on Tuesday and is expected to last one to two weeks.
But he expressed his views about it again on Wednesday, writing on Truth Social that Carroll’s rape claim was “a made up SCAM” and said: “This is a fraudulent & false story–Witch Hunt!”
His comments prompted U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to warn that Trump could face more legal problems if he kept discussing the case.
Carroll testified that she had met Trump years before the alleged rape, finding him “very personable” and a “man about town.”
At Bergdorf, Carroll recalled that she was leaving the store when Trump recognized her and held up his hand, prompting her to stop.
“He said, ‘Hey, you are that advice lady,'” Carroll recalled. “I said, ‘Hey, you are that real estate tycoon.'”
Carroll said she and Trump engaged in banter, describing his tone as “joshing,” with Trump seeking to buy lingerie for another woman.
She said Trump asked her to try on a piece of lingerie, prompting her to joke that he should try it on.
Carroll said Trump then ushered her to an open dressing room, shut the door, shoved her against a wall, and pulled down her tights. She said she pushed back.
Trump’s fingers “went into my vagina, which was extremely painful, extremely painful,” and he also “inserted his penis,” she said. “As I’m sitting here today I can still feel it.”
Carroll choked up and fought back tears as she described pushing him back.
Asked by her lawyer if she told Trump “no,” Carroll said: “I don’t recall saying it. I may have said it.”
Carroll said she blamed herself at the time, and feared she would lose her job and Trump would retaliate if she reported him.
She also said the damage was long-lasting.
“It left me unable to ever have a romantic life again,” she added.
Lawyers for Trump are expected to question Carroll, including over her inability to remember when the encounter took place.
She recalled it was on a Thursday night, but “I can’t say I’m 100% sure.”
Trump posted his latest comments about Carroll on Truth Social about an hour before Wednesday’s testimony began.
“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?”
Carroll was about 52 when the alleged rape occurred. Trump was 49.
The outburst led 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.”
Kaplan 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.”
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.