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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Judge Blocks Mention of Dubious ‘Rape’ Claim at Trump Defamation Trial

'It was all made up...'

(Headline USA) A judge late Saturday said former President Donald Trump’s lawyers can’t present legal arguments to a jury assessing damages at a defamation trial on a jury’s conclusion last year that he didn’t rape a columnist in the mid-1990s.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, made the determination in an order in advance of a Jan. 16 trial to determine defamation damages against Trump after a jury concluded Trump sexually abused columnist E. Jean Carroll but did not find evidence was sufficient to conclude that he raped her.

Trump, speaking in Iowa on Saturday as the Republican frontrunning presidential candidate in advance of a Jan. 15 primary, criticized the judge as a “radical Democrat” and mocked Carroll for not screaming when she was attacked.

“It was all made up,” he said.

Carroll, 80, won a $5 million award last May from a jury that concluded Trump sexually abused her in 1996 in a luxury department store dressing room and defamed her in 2022.

Trump did not attend the Manhattan trial where Carroll testified that a chance encounter at a Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower was flirtatious and fun until he slammed her against a wall in a dressing room and attacked her sexually. Trump has vehemently denied it.

In this month’s trial, a jury will consider whether damages should be levied against Trump for remarks he made after last year’s verdict and in 2019 while he was president after Carroll, in a memoir, made her allegations against Trump for the first time about her mid-1990s encounter with the Manhattan real-estate mogul.

Carroll’s lawyers had asked the judge to issue the order, saying that Trump’s attorneys should not be allowed to confuse jurors this month about last year’s verdict by trying to argue that the jury disbelieved Carroll’s rape claim.

They said the jury’s finding reflected its conclusion that Trump had forcibly and without consent digitally penetrated Carroll’s vagina, which does not constitute rape under New York state law but which constitutes rape in other jurisdictions.

Carroll was subsequently revealed to have been bankrolled by an anti-Trump billionaire, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and to have played a significant role in the activist push for New York’s legislature to temporarily suspend the statute of limitations on all sexual assault claims in its Adult Survivors Act.

Her testimony during the trial was oftentimes hazy and inconsistent, with no witnesses able to corroborate her account except for hearsay and Carroll herself often changing details of the story.

Carroll’s lawyers said the “sting of the defamation was Mr. Trump’s assertions that Ms. Carroll’s charge of sexual abuse was an entirely untruthful fabrication and one made up for improper or even nefarious reasons.”

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately return a message Saturday.

Carroll is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and substantially more in unspecified punitive damages at the trial. She will testify and Trump is listed as a witness. The trial is expected to last about a week.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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