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E. Jean Carroll lawsuit against Trump for defamation, battery set for trial on Tuesday

Jury selection starts in Trump rape claim
Jury selection set to begin in lawsuit of E. Jean Carroll accusing Donald Trump of rape in 1990s 06:21

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in a civil trial stemming from a lawsuit filed by advice columnist and author E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump. 

Carroll says Trump raped her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s and defamed her when she went public with the story in 2019, when New York Magazine published an excerpt from a book Carroll was soon to publish.

Trump has denied Carroll's allegations, claiming she fabricated them, and accusing her of doing so for publicity.

Carroll first sued Trump in 2019

Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in 2019, but the lawsuit has yet to go to trial because courts first wrestled with legal questions regarding suits against sitting presidents. 

The trial scheduled to begin Tuesday stems from a second lawsuit filed in November 2022, alleging defamation and battery under New York State's new Adult Survivors Act. The legislation opened a one-year window in which people who say they were the survivors of sexual abuse as adults could sue even if the state's statute of limitations would otherwise bar their claims.

Carroll's lawyers have indicated they will argue her allegations are emblematic of a pattern of behavior displayed by Trump, and they have said they will call two witnesses who have separately accused Trump of sexual misconduct. 

"Access Hollywood" video

Jurors may also hear an infamous video recorded while Trump was filming an interview with the television show "Access Hollywood." The clip made headlines in October 2016, during Trump's first presidential campaign, when he could be heard referring to "grabbing" women's genitals.

Trump's attorneys unsuccessfully sought to have the tape barred from being used at trial. They are expected to argue that the alleged assault never occurred and to say that there were no witnesses.

In an October deposition for the case, portions of which were put into the public court record, Trump was combative and unapologetic. He denied sexually assaulting Carroll during the 5 1/2-hour deposition, and repeatedly referred to her using derogatory terms.

During his deposition, Trump threatened to countersue Carroll and sue her attorney, Roberta Kaplan.

Carroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine and "Saturday Night Live" writer, has said Trump raped her in late 1995 or early 1996 in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll's attorney, has estimated in pretrial hearings that he expects the trial to last about a week. Kaplan has ordered that jurors will be anonymous, to protect them from harassment and other potentially unwanted publicity that might occur due to their involvement in a high-stakes trial involving a former president.

Trump's attorneys have not said if he will attend any of the trial, though they asked the judge to read to jurors a note saying if Trump doesn't attend it is because he wants to save New York City the "logistical and financial burdens" of hosting a former president in court. Kaplan rejected that request.

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina noted in his request that when Trump was arraigned on felony charges on April 4, at a state criminal court one block from the federal building where the civil trial is happening, several city blocks were shut down and the courthouse was nearly empty as the Secret Service shuttled the former president to and from his hearing.

The trial comes as Trump is facing significant criminal and civil legal scrutiny. His April 4 court hearing marked the first time in U.S. history a former president was charged with a crime — 34 counts of felony falsification of business records in connection with a 2016 "hush money" payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Trump, three of his children and their company were sued in September by the New York Attorney General, who is seeking $250 million and sanctions designed to severely limit the company's operations, while alleging more than a decade of widespread fraud.

In Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is considering charges in an investigation into alleged efforts by Trump and more than a dozen of his allies to undermine the 2020 election results after he lost. 

In Washington, D.C., special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing two Justice Department investigations into alleged efforts to interfere with the lawful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, and Trump's handling of sensitive government documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, including possible obstruction of efforts to retrieve them.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of the cases.

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