Trump sexual assault accuser E Jean Carroll considers police complaint

Ed Pilkington and Edward Helmore in New York
Photograph: Craig Ruttle/AP

E Jean Carroll, the celebrated advice columnist who has accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s, has said she is considering bringing a complaint to the New York police department (NYPD).

In a lengthy interview with CNN on Monday, Carroll said she would be open to working with the NYPD in a criminal investigation into the attack she alleges happened in the Manhattan store of Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996.

Related: Donald Trump says assault accuser E Jean Carroll 'not my type'

“I would consider it,” she said. However, she added that lawyers had advised her that the statute of limitations deadline by which such a complaint would have had to be brought has expired.

The advice columnist, whose column Ask E Jean has been a popular feature of Elle for almost 30 years, broke her bombshell allegations in New York magazine on Friday. Her comments to CNN were the first time she has been seen on camera telling her story. The book in which it appears will be published next Tuesday.

Trump has issued blanket denials of the claims. On Saturday he said he had “no idea” who Carroll was, despite a photograph existing of the two meeting in a social setting from the late 1980s. And in an interview with The Hill on Monday, Trump again dismissed the allegations, adding, “she’s not my type”.

The “not my type” remark is not the first time Trump has disparaged an accuser. In 2016, after a former magazine writer accused Trump of assaulting her in 2005, he responded: “She lies! Look at her, I don’t think so.” And when another woman claimed Trump groped her in the early 1980s, he said: “Believe me she would not be my first choice.”

Responding to the president’s comments on CNN, Carroll said: “I love that I’m not his type.”

The president has suggested that Carroll’s allegations are designed to make money out of book sales. He has also floated the theory that this is a political conspiracy to discredit him in the week he launched his campaign for re-election.

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York who is running for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in 2020, said on Saturday that were Carroll to come forward with her allegations, he would authorise a police investigation. “We will find out the truth,” he said.

But the reaction to Carroll’s allegations has been strangely muted. In live interviews on Sunday, the vice-president, Mike Pence, was not asked once about the fresh claims of sexual assault made against his boss.

The New York Times, which carried Carroll’s allegations and Trump’s subsequent denial on Friday, has launched a reader’s editor inquiry into why its 800-word account of Carroll’s allegations was not promoted to the first page until Saturday and only belatedly made it into the paper on Sunday.

Some who wrote in to complain questioned whether the lack of prominence revealed deference to the president, misogyny or an unwillingness to believe a victim’s account.

The paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, said on Monday that critics were correct that the article had been downplayed. “The fact that a well-known person was making a very public allegation against a sitting president ‘should’ve compelled us to play it bigger’,” Baquet conceded in conversation with the paper’s Reader Center.

The New York Post removed a story about Carroll’s allegations on Friday afternoon. CNN Business reported on Monday that Col Allen, a supporter of Trump and an adviser to the paper, had ordered the removal.

Carroll has also been forced to defend her accusations, which could be considered a step away from blaming the victim. She strongly denied to CNN that she was politically motivated in describing the alleged attack in her book What Do We Need Men For?

“I’m barely political. I can’t name you the candidates who are running right now,” she said.

Carroll said she was suffering as a result of coming forward. She has received death threats on social media, she said, and fears her career in journalism might be in peril.

“Who knows? Donald Trump has gotten people fired,” she said.

Carroll gave CNN further vivid details of the attack she says she endured when Trump took her into a dressing room in the lingerie department of the department store.

“The minute he closed that door I was banged up against the wall, hit my head really hard,” she said. “Boom. I was stunned, and then he tried to kiss me, which was repulsive.”

She went on: “My reaction was to laugh to knock off the erotic thing he had going on, but no, he just went at it. He pulled down my tights. There was a fight. I want women to know I did not stand there, I did not freeze, I was not paralysed. No, I fought.”

The CNN presenter Alisyn Camerota put it to the writer that what she was describing was an unambiguous case of legal rape. Carroll declined to agree.

She said: “I don’t use the word. I have difficulty with the word. I see it as a fight. I don’t want to be seen as a victim because I quickly went past [it]. It was a very brief episode of my life. I’m very careful with that word.”

Camerota is well versed in the difficulties women face in cases of sexual misconduct. In April 2017 she revealed she was sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, the late and ousted Fox News chair, while she was a presenter on that channel.

Were Carroll to go to the NYPD, it is by no means certain a case could be mounted, given statute of limitations concerns. New York state removed the five-year statute of limitations for first-degree rape in 2006 but it did not do so retroactively, meaning that all cases that fell before that year – as Carroll’s allegations do – are not freed from the restriction.

Related: Trump repeats contested claim he does not know latest sexual assault accuser

That potentially insurmountable roadblock notwithstanding, there are aspects of Carroll’s case that would be of interest to NYPD detectives. She has kept the clothes that she was wearing during the alleged assault in her closet, where they remain unlaundered to this day.

Carroll’s clothing is an echo of the blue cocktail dress worn by Monica Lewinsky, which carried DNA evidence that became important in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Asked by Camerota if she thought her dress could similarly have Trump’s DNA on it, Carroll replied: “I have no idea whether the president ejaculated.”

Carroll was asked at length why she had not come forward during the 2016 campaign, and had waited until now. She said that for years she had blamed herself and thought of herself as stupid.

But she said she had watched a pattern developing with 16 or more women coming forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct – she had thought “they were doing the job”, she said – only for Trump to get away with it.

“With all the women it’s the same: he denies it, he turns it around, he attacks and he threatens – and then everybody forgets it until the next woman comes along. I am sick of it. I am sick of it.”