Defamation trial against Donald Trump, accused of rape, begins

This is the first time that Donald Trump, accused of sexual assault or harassment by more than 20 women, has to answer in court. A civil trial for an accusation of rape and defamation against the former American president opened Tuesday in New York, following complaints from a former press columnist, E. Jean Carroll, for denounced facts which date back to the mid-1990s and which the former American president strongly denies.

More than 25 years after the events, nine jurors, selected Tuesday in a federal court in Manhattan, will try to shed light on this case, where two diametrically opposed versions clash. The trial is expected to last five to ten days and several witnesses are expected.

At this time, it is unclear whether Donald Trump intends to testify on the stand. On Tuesday, his attorney Joe Tacopina referenced Trump’s sworn hearing on video, and replied “I’m not sure” when asked by Judge Kaplan if he would call his client to the stand. The magistrate specified that the lawyer had until the end of the week to make known his answer. Barring a major twist, it is unlikely that Donald Trump will expose himself to the risk of cross-examination.

“Grooved, groped and raped”

Since 2019, E. Jean Carroll and his lawyers claim that the former president of the United States “groped, groped and raped her” after luring her into the fitting room of a New York department store, Bergdorf Goodman, on a date which she no longer remembers but which would go back to “the spring of 1996”. “The moment they got inside (the cabin), everything changed. Suddenly, nothing was funny anymore, ”launched one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Shawn Crowley, at the opening of the proceedings. “Trump was almost twice his height,” she added.

The lawyer explained that the columnist had kept silent for 20 years, for fear of having her reputation destroyed by a powerful man. But in the wake of the #metoo movement, the one who wrote in Elle magazine in the United States had decided to speak in a book in 2019.

Two friends, to whom E. Jean Carroll had confided shortly after the facts, will come to corroborate his account at the bar, promised Shawn Crowley. Donald Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, blasted “an affront to justice”. “She abuses the system for money, for political reasons and for her status,” he continued, in front of E. Jean Carroll, 79, who was staring at him.

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But, aware that the figure of Donald Trump, absent at the opening of the proceedings, and probably throughout the trial, could cause rejection in New York, he took care to launch to the jurors: “You can hate Donald Trump, c is OK (…) But in the voting booth, not here, in a court”. The jury will have to determine the amount of reparations to possibly be awarded to the writer.

Trump surrounded by court cases

At 76, the former tenant of the White House (2017-2021) dreams of being re-elected in November 2024, but he sees the legal cases piling up. In early April, in unprecedented history for a former US president, he was charged with criminal charges in New York for 34 accounting and tax frauds related to payments to cover up embarrassing affairs before the 2016 presidential election, including a sexual relationship with the porn actress Stormy Daniels that he has always denied.

E. Jean Carroll first filed a libel suit against Mr. Trump in 2019 because he called the rape allegations a “complete lie”. Then President of the United States, he added that Carroll was “not his kind of woman” and his lawyers claimed that he was protected, in 2019, by his immunity as head of state.

But in November 2022, a New York State law came into force (Adult Survivors Act) allowing, for one year, victims of sexual assault to relaunch their civil legal action, even if the facts were prescribed. criminally. E. Jean Carroll then filed a new civil complaint for “defamation” but also “assault” and “assault”.

During a testimony during the procedure by video link, made public by justice in January, Donald Trump had reaffirmed his line of defense: “I will say it with the greatest respect: first, she is not my type; then it never happened”. But, in front of a photo where he appeared with E. Jean Carroll at a reception years before the facts, Mr. Trump had then confused her with his former wife, the actress Marla Maples, with whom he was married from 1993 to 1999.

In addition to his criminal indictment, he also remains in the crosshairs of justice for his alleged involvement in an attempt to turn the results of the 2020 presidential election in his favor in his favor, and for his role in the assault on the Capitol by his supporters, on January 6, 2021.

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