A jury has begun deliberations in a former columnist’s civil rape trial against Donald Trump.
E Jean Carroll is suing the ex-US President, claiming he raped her in a Manhattan department store nearly 30 years ago. She is demanding millions in damages.
The two-week trial in New York federal court was marked by tense arguments with lawyers and controversial statements about women’s bodies.
Mr Trump failed to appear in court to testify and has consistently denied the allegation.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan gave instructions to the nine jurors Tuesday morning before they retired to consider their verdict.
“I know that you will fulfill your duty under your oath to render a judgment that is just and truthful,” he told the jury of six men and three women.
While the statute of limitations in the case has long since expired, New York recently enacted a law allowing decades-old sexual assault claims to be filed as civil claims.
One of the key moments of the trial occurred during Ms. Carroll’s opening statement, when she described in vivid detail what she alleges happened at the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan in 1996 and the trauma she says she felt as a result has suffered.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it he lied and said it didn’t happen,” she said.
She then walked through the court through the day of the alleged assault, explaining how she encountered Mr Trump and exchanged flirtatious banter with him before things quickly turned violent. She said Mr Trump asked her to come with him to a dressing room, where he closed the door, pinned her against the wall and raped her.
“As I sit here today, I can still feel it,” she said in court.
She added that Mr. Trump’s denial of the attack tarnished her reputation and cost her her job and romantic relationships. “I’m here to try to get my life back,” she said.
During a multi-hour cross-examination over two days, Ms Carroll faced challenging questions about the attack from Mr Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina, who was trying to cast doubt on her details of the alleged rape.
During a particularly tense exchange, Mr Tacopina repeatedly asked Ms Carroll why she didn’t scream when the alleged assault took place.
“I’m not a screamer,” she told Mr Tacopina, adding that some women don’t report sexual assault because they’re asked why they didn’t scream.
“I’m telling you, he raped me whether I screamed or not,” she once told Mr. Tacopina.
The Trump attorney also pressed Ms. Carroll on why she didn’t report the attack to the police first.
The former Elle magazine columnist responded that she was a member of the “silent generation” and said women her age were taught to remain silent.
Mr. Tacopina also questioned Ms. Carroll why she could not remember the exact date of the attack. The author later acknowledged that certain parts of her story were “difficult to imagine.”
During the trial, Mr Trump did not defend himself, did not call witnesses and only appeared to defend himself in a video of his testimony, from which Ms Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, played in court. Ms. Kaplan is not related to the judge in this case, Lewis Kaplan.
Faced with questions from Ms Kaplan, Mr Trump continued to deny allegations that he raped Ms Carroll, calling it a “big fat hoax” and repeating previous comments that Ms Carroll was “not his type in any way”.
But at one point he appeared to be confusing Ms Carroll with his ex-wife Marla Maples, a mistake Ms Carroll’s lawyers claimed undermined his argument that the writer wasn’t his type.
In the video, Mr Trump is shown an old black and white photograph of him speaking to a man and two women at an event. “It’s Marla,” he said, before his own attorney told him that the woman he was referring to in the photo was actually Ms Carroll.
The Access Hollywood Tape
In another excerpt from Mr Trump’s video testimony played for the court, Ms Kaplan played for Mr Trump a controversial 2005 Access Hollywood recording of a conversation between him and the show’s co-host about women.
“If you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Mr Trump said in the recording, released to the public just a month before the 2016 presidential election. “Take her by the [expletive]. You can do anything,” he added.
When asked about Ms Kaplan’s clip, the former president seemed to double down on the remarks, claiming, “Historically, that’s true with stars.”
When Ms. Kaplan pressed him for his comments about grabbing women “by the pole.” [expletive]’ Mr Trump said: ‘Well I think if you look at the last few million years that has been mostly true – not always true, but unfortunately or fortunately mostly true.’
At other tense moments during questioning, Mr Trump appeared to get angry with Ms Kaplan, attacking her looks and claiming that, like Ms Carroll, “you wouldn’t be my choice either, to be honest”.
“Too Ugly To Live”
During her second day on the witness stand, being questioned by her own attorneys, Ms. Carroll described the backlash she encountered after making her rape allegation.
After Mr Trump posted a statement on social media denying the allegation and calling Ms Carroll’s first lawsuit against him a “fraud”, Ms Carroll said she was facing a “slime wave”.
She said many extrapolated to Mr Trump’s remarks that she was “not his type” and told her she was “too ugly to live”.
Mr Trump’s comments on social media also prompted a rebuke from the judge in the case, Lewis Kaplan. The former president has called the lawsuit a “fictitious fraud” and claims Ms Carroll’s lawyer is a political agent, notes Mr Kaplan, calling it “completely inappropriate”.