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E. Jean Carroll testifies in Trump lawsuit trial, "I'm here because Donald Trump raped me"

E. Jean Carroll takes stand in civil trial
E. Jean Carroll takes stand in civil trial against Trump 02:03

Author E. Jean Carroll testified Wednesday at the trial stemming from her defamation and battery lawsuit against former President Donald Trump that he raped her in the mid-1990s.

"I'm here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen," Carroll said on the stand. "He shattered my reputation."

Trump and his lawyers have called Carroll's allegations false, and Wednesday's hearing began with a reprimand from the judge after Trump called the civil case a "made-up scam" on his social media site.

Writer E. Jean Carroll leaves as jury selection is set to begin in the defamation case against former US President Donald Trump brought by Carroll, who accused him of raping her in the 1990s, at the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 25, 2023. KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Carroll, an advice columnist, has alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman store in either 1995 or 1996. The civil trial stems from a lawsuit filed in November 2022, after New York passed a law that eliminated for one year the statute of limitations for adults who claim they were sexually assaulted. A previous lawsuit filed by Carroll in 2019 is still pending.

She appeared after the first witness, a former Bergdorf Goodman human resources manager named Cheryl Beall. Beall described a 6th-floor lingerie section that was generally quiet and sparsely populated, particularly on Thursday evenings and also said that changing room doors were often unattended, with the doors propped open.

Carroll testified that she bumped into Trump in late 1995 or early 1996, as she was exiting the department store.

"Hey, you are that advice lady," Trump said, according to Carroll.

"Hey, you're that real estate tycoon," she recalled replying. She said he asked for advice on buying a gift.

Carroll described a joking, "joshing" banter as they walked through the store. She said she suggested handbags and then a hat.

"I was absolutely enchanted with what I could only think of as a scene that would make such a great story," Carroll said. The former "Saturday Night Live" writer recalled Trump as being "funny."

She said he suggested they look at lingerie, and picked one up, asking her to try it on. She said she suggested to Trump that he put it on.

"I could just picture in my mind Donald Trump putting this lingerie on over his pants," she said. Carroll said Trump suggested they go to a dressing room, and soon after that, they entered one and he closed the door.

"He immediately shut the door and shoved me against the wall," Carroll said, adding that her head hit the wall.

She said in the next few moments, Trump pulled down her tights and penetrated her with his hand and genitals.

She appeared to choke up when asked by her attorney, Mike Ferrara, about efforts to get away. 

"When you ask me what I did in that moment, I always go back to 'Why did I walk in there?'" Carroll said. "But I did get out." 

Carroll said she used her knee to "move his body" away and left Bergdorf Goodman as quickly as possible. She described calling two friends soon after she left the store. She said one friend advised her to go to the police, while the other friend said not to. In the end, Carroll said, she didn't go out of shame and fear of retaliation.

In the decades since the alleged incident, Carroll said she has not had a romantic relationship, nor has she had sex.

Asked why, she replied, "The short answer is because Donald Trump raped me."

She spoke of a short and "passionate" previous marriage in which she claims an ex-husband strangled her on three occasions, and of a camp counselor who she says molested her at the age of 12. 

Trump, however, was different, she said, because "the incident in Bergdorf's was very violent." 

Carroll, a registered Democrat, said the lawsuit is not about politics. "I'm not settling a political score at all, I'm settling a personal score," she said. 

Carroll is expected to continue being questioned Thursday morning by her own team before Trump's attorneys get a chance to cross-examine her.

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