The trial between Donald Trump and his rape accuser began today in New York but the former US president failed to show up in court.
Journalist E. Jean Carroll, who was pictured arriving at court this morning, claims that Trump forced himself upon her in the changing room of Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-90s.
She sued him for battery in a civil case in New York’s federal court, with jury selection due to start today.
Trump, who was a no-show this morning, has denied the claims and said that Carroll made them to boost sales of her 2019 memoir.
The case is expected to last at least a week and it is unclear if the former president will appear at any time to testify under oath.
Trump’s lawyers have said he ‘wishes to appear’ but is worried about the security and traffic headache it would cause.
The case brought by Carroll was filed under a New York state law opening a one-year window for adult victims of sexual assault to file civil cases after the statute of limitations has expired.
Carroll, 79, a former advice columnist for Elle magazine, has said that she kept quiet about her experience for decades but spoke out after Trump, 76, became president.
She claims that ‘playful banter took a dark turn’ when he ‘forced her up against a dressing room wall, pinned her in place with his shoulder, and raped her,’ according to the complaint.
After a chance meeting at Bergdorf’s, Carroll claims Trump offered to buy her lingerie but then followed her into the changing room.
The complaint states: ‘Trump lunged at Carroll, pushing her against the wall, bumping her head quite badly, and putting his mouth on her lips.
‘Carroll shoved him back. Utterly shocked by Trump’s unexpected attack, Carroll burst out in awkward laughter. She could hardly process the insanity of the situation. She also hoped, at least at first, that laughter would bruise his ego and cause him to retreat.’
Instead he allegedly ‘seized both of her arms’ and pinned her against the wall as he pulled down her tights and allegedly forced himself upon her.
Carroll filed a separate defamation lawsuit against Trump over statements he made about the case while he was still president.
His social media posts include calling the case a ‘complete con job’ and ‘totally false’.
In one post he said: ‘While I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type.’
Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled that the jury could view the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump boasted about grabbing women by their private parts to Billy Bush in 2005.
The jury will also hear from two other women who claim that Trump sexually assaulted them and two of Carroll’s friends who she supposedly told about the incident.
The jurors are to be anonymous to protect them from media attention and harassment by Trump’s supporters, the judge has ruled.
Court documents already made public have shown that in a sworn deposition Trump mistakenly identified Carroll as his ex-wife Marla Maples after being shown a photo of the journalist.
It has also been revealed that Carroll’s lawsuit is in part being funded by the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, who has sharply criticized Trump.
The defamation case has been postponed pending a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which is considering whether Trump made the remarks as part of his job as president, meaning they would be protected.
Trump is also facing an investigation by prosecutors in Georgia into whether he interfered with the 2020 election.
A special counsel is looking into whether he illegally retained classified documents after leaving the White House and the falsifying business documents case in New York is expected to go to trial early next year.