NEW YORK — The writer E. Jean Carroll sued Donald Trump for allegedly raping her in the 1990s just after midnight Thursday as a New York law took effect opening a window for sex assault victims to sue their alleged assailants.
Carroll’s battery and defamation lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan accuses Trump of pinning her against a wall and then raping her inside a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman’s on Fifth Avenue near E. 58th Street between the fall of 1995 and spring of 1996.
The lawsuit was among the first filed under the Adult Survivors Act, which went into effect at 12 a.m. on Thursday.
The law gives sexual assault victims one year to sue their alleged assailant regardless of when the attack occurred, and waives laws setting statutes of limitations for such cases.
Carroll’s detailed suit meticulously describes the alleged incident involving Trump.
Carroll, then 52 — a longtime Elle Magazine columnist who at the time appeared on “Ask E. Jean TV” on the now defunct “America’s Talking” network — bumped into Trump at an entrance to the store as she was leaving.
Trump asked her to join him on a shopping trip as he searched for a gift for an unnamed girlfriend. The lawsuit describes a “bemused” Carroll joining him and being “thrilled that Trump would want her advice.”
“She stuck around, imagining the funny stories that she might later recount,” the suit reads.
Trump allegedly raped her when they got to a dressing room in the lingerie department, where he teased her about trying on a see-through bodysuit, the lawsuit says.
Trump lunged at her and gave her a forceful kiss, according to the suit. After she shoved him away, Carroll claims he pinned her against a wall, pulled down her tights and raped her.
After she managed to break free and flee the store, a disoriented Carroll immediately called journalist Lisa Birnbach about the assault, according to her lawsuit. Days later, she told a friend, TV news anchor Carol Martin.
The lawsuit details how Carroll’s friends advised her to stay silent out of fear Trump would try to ruin her reputation. It describes her never having a romantic relationship since.
“In Carroll’s own words the ‘music had stopped’ and the ‘light had gone out’ after Trump attacked her at Bergdorf’s,” reads the suit.
The lawsuit demands unspecified damages for “significant” pain and suffering, lasting psychological and financial harm, loss of dignity and invasion of privacy.
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said, “While I respect and admire individuals that come forward, this case is unfortunately an abuse of the purpose of this Act which creates a terrible precedent and runs the risk of delegitimizing the credibility of actual victims.”
Carroll, 78, is already suing Trump for defamation for calling her a liar when she publicly accused him of rape in 2019 when he was president. He notoriously said she was “not my type” and accused her of fabricating the assault to sell books.
Both Trump and Carroll have recently been deposed in the defamation lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in early 2023.
What happens next will be determined by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. After hearing arguments in January, the court will decide whether Trump was acting in his capacity as president when he said Carroll lied and wasn’t his type and should thus be substituted as a defendant by the Department of Justice.
President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has taken Trump’s side in the argument, claiming that if Carroll’s argument prevails, more federal officials will be open to lawsuits.
Carroll’s lawsuit filed Thursday includes a new defamation claim regarding identical comments Trump made about her last month in a diatribe on his Truth Social social media network.
“She 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,” Trump wrote Oct. 22 on Truth Social.
“(W)hile I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!”
Because Trump is no longer president, the new defamation claim in Carroll’s lawsuit should fall outside the purview of the D.C. appellate court case. Citing overlap between evidence in the two lawsuits, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan has asked that the case filed Thursday stay on track for an April trial.