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E. Jean Carroll said she kept quiet about assault accusation against Trump for 20 years out of "fear" of him

E. Jean Carroll cross-examined in Trump trial
E. Jean Carroll cross-examined in Trump trial 02:00

Author E. Jean Carroll testified Thursday that she was inspired in 2017 by the "Me Too" movement to come forward with her allegation that former President Donald Trump had raped her more than two decades earlier.

Carroll was on the stand for the second day, being cross-examined by an attorney for Trump, Joe Tacopina.

"It caused me to realize that staying silent does not work," Carroll said. On Wednesday, she said she chose to keep the alleged assault in a New York City department store a secret for more than 20 years out of "fear" of Trump.

Tacopina asked about an email thread in which Carroll and a friend derided Trump and referred to getting together to "scheme" and do their "patriotic duty." Carroll said she and the friend, Carol Martin, talk to each other like that.

Asked if she had believed including the allegations against Trump would help sell more books, Carroll said she did think so, but "I was wrong."

"I thought people would be interested. It turns out I was wrong," Carroll said.

Trump's defense team continued to try to pick apart Carroll's account of what happened in Bergdorf Goodman and what followed. The mood in the courtroom was tense at times, particularly when Tacopina asked why she didn't scream when Trump was raping her or when she left the dressing room.

"You can't beat up on me for not screaming," she replied.

Tacopina said, "I'm not beating up on you."

"Some women scream, some women don't," said Carroll. "It keeps women silent."

He repeatedly asked at every step in her story about her claim that she didn't see anyone else in the store, at one point mumbling about what he called the "inconceivable part," which resulted in a sustained objection.

"I'm telling you — he raped me — whether I screamed or not," Carroll said with emotion in her raised voice. "I don't need an excuse for not screaming."

She admits now that she wished she had screamed because she thinks more people would've believed her. Tacopina asked why she wouldn't have screamed for help. 

"No, I didn't want to make a scene," Carroll replied.

Earlier in the day, Carroll was questioned briefly by her own attorney, and said she first considered suing Trump after a conversation at a party with the lawyer George Conway, a Republican known for his opposition to Trump.

She was also shown examples of disparaging tweets written about her by users of the social media platform. The tweets appeared to echo comments Trump had made about her appearance and allegations.

Carroll described them as being among an "onslaught" of tweets directed at her.

She called it "a wave of slime" and the message conveyed as "too ugly to go on living, practically"

Carroll began testifying Wednesday at the trial stemming from her defamation and battery lawsuit against former President Donald Trump that he raped her in the mid-1990s. She told the court, "I'm here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He shattered my reputation."

Trump and his lawyers have denied Carroll's allegations.

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.

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.

Carroll, a registered Democrat, said Wednesday that the lawsuit is not about politics. 

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