A writer who accused former US president Donald Trump of rape has filed a lawsuit against him minutes after a new New York law allowing sexual violence victims to sue over decades-old attacks came into effect.
- E. Jean Carroll first made the claim in a 2019 book
- She said the former president raped her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store
- Mr Trump has denied the allegation
E Jean Carroll’s lawyer filed the legal papers electronically as the Adult Survivor’s Act temporarily lifted the state’s deadlines for suing over sexual assault.
She is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for pain and suffering, psychological harms, dignity loss and reputation damage.
Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, first made the claim in a 2019 book, saying Mr Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan luxury department store in 1995 or 1996.
Mr Trump responded it never could have happened because Carroll was “not my type”.
Carroll went on to to file a defamation lawsuit against him, but that lawsuit has been tied up in appeals courts as judges decide whether he is protected from legal claims for comments made when he was president.
Previously, Carroll had been barred by state law from suing over the alleged rape because too many years had passed since it happened.
New York’s new law now gives sex crime victims who missed statute of limitations deadlines a second chance to file a lawsuit.
This window will be open for one year before the previous time limits are brought back.
Hundreds of lawsuits are expected, including many filed by women who say they were assaulted by co-workers, prison guards and medical providers.
In her new claims, Carroll maintains Trump committed battery “when he forcibly raped and groped her” and he defamed her when he denied raping her last month.
Mr Trump said in his statement Carroll “completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City Department Store and, within minutes, ‘swooned’ her. It is a hoax and a lie, just like all the other hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years”.
Carroll’s new ability to sue Trump for rape could help her sidestep a potentially fatal legal flaw in her original defamation case.
If the courts ultimately hold Mr Trump’s original response to Carroll’s rape allegation were part of his job duties, as president, she would be barred from suing him over those remarks, as federal employees are protected from defamation claims.
No such protection would cover things he did prior to becoming president.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presides over the defamation lawsuit Carroll filed three years ago, may decide to include the new claims in a trial likely to occur in the spring.
Mr Trump’s lawyers this week said they do not yet know whether they will represent him against the new allegations.
‘Donald Trump will be held accountable’
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, told a court this week the new claims should not require much additional gathering of evidence.
Mr Trump and Carroll have also already been deposed.
In a statement on the new lawsuit, Ms Kaplan said her client “intends to hold Donald Trump accountable not only for defaming her, but also for sexually assaulting her, which he did years ago in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman”.
“Thanksgiving Day was the very first day Ms Carroll could file under New York law so our complaint was filed with the court shortly after midnight.”
Attorney Michael Madaio, a lawyer for Mr Trump, said at the hearing that the new allegations are significantly different than the original defamation lawsuit and would require “an entirely new set” of evidence gathering.
A lawyer for Mr Trump did not respond to a message seeking comment on Wednesday local time.
Another message seeking comment was sent to the lawyer after the lawsuit was filed less than 10 minutes into the new day.
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