Trial Begins in Trump's Rape Case

E. Jean Carroll is suing the former president for rape, defamation
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 12:38 AM CDT
A Trump Trial Begins
Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, leaves Manhattan federal court with her attorneys, Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The civil trial over E. Jean Carroll's rape and defamation lawsuit against former President Trump started Tuesday, with jury selection and opening statements taking place in a Manhattan federal courtroom just blocks from where Trump's historic arraignment took place earlier this month. Trump was not present for jury selection, NBC News reports. Six men and three women were seated on what will be an anonymous jury, as ordered by the judge in the case; NBC calls that "an unusual move for a civil trial." Jurors were urged not to reveal their real names to their fellow jurors: "If jurors’ identities were disclosed, there would be a strong likelihood of unwanted media attention to the jurors, influence attempts, and/or of harassment or worse of jurors by supporters of Mr. Trump,” the judge wrote in a decision last month. They will be known by numbers, NPR reports.

In his opening statement, Carroll's lawyer said, "Donald Trump assaulted her in 1996 and defamed her when he said she made it up." He said the pair had met before and ran into each other in a New York City department store, where Trump asked for her help choosing some lingerie. They engaged in "playful banter" as they walked through the store, the attorney said, before Trump ultimately "forced her up against a dressing room wall, pinned her in place with his shoulder, and raped her." As for Trump's lawyer, he said, "She is doing this for money, political reasons, and status. And in doing so she is minimizing true rape victims and destroying their pain and capitalizing on them." The trial is expected to last five to 10 days, and it's not yet clear whether Trump will take the stand. Friends of Carroll's and department store workers are expected to corroborate her story. A separate, defamation-only lawsuit from Carroll against Trump has not gone to trial. (More E. Jean Carroll stories.)

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