E. Jean Carroll, a writer and longtime columnist for Elle, has filed a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump after he denied her claim that he sexually assaulted her in a New York department store more than twenty years ago.
Filed in the New York County Supreme Court, the complaint focuses on three statements in which the president accused Carrol of lying.
“Nobody is entitled to conceal acts of sexual assault behind a wall of defamatory falsehoods and deflections,” Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan wrote in the suit.
In June of this year, Carroll published an excerpt from her upcoming memoir in which she recounts meeting Trump in a department store and helping him buy clothing for another woman. Carroll says that Trump pulled her into an empty dressing room and violently forced himself on her.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegations, and has accused her of lying about the assault to make money.
“Regarding the ‘story’ by E. Jean Carroll, claiming she once encountered me at Bergdorf Goodman 23 years ago. I’ve never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book–that should indicate her motivation It should be sold in the fiction section,” Trump said in a statement on June 21st.
In an interview with The Hill published on June 24th, Trump told reporters that Carroll wasn’t “his type” and that “it never happened.”
In response to Carroll’s recent lawsuit, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told The Washington Post that the lawsuit was “frivolous” and Carroll “a fraud.”
Of the at least a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual impropriety, two (excluding Carroll) have filed defamation lawsuits after the president accused them of lying. One, filed by adult-film star Stormy Daniels, was ultimately dismissed in October after a federal judge ruled that Trump’s speech was protected under the First Amendment as “rhetorical hyperbole.”
But another case, filed by a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice”, is still being litigated. Summer Zervos accused the president of nonconsensual kissing and groping in a hotel room in 2007. When the president called her a liar, she sued him for defamation. The case is currently in the discovery phase, and Trump may be required to answer questions under oath.
According to The Washington Post, Zervos’ case helped “clear some key hurdles” for Carroll’s defamation suit, whose case, because it deals with rape, “stands apart from less violent allegations regarding Trump’s treatment of women.”
“Decades ago, the now president of the United States raped me,” said Carroll in a statement. “While I can no longer hold Donald Trump accountable for assaulting me more than 20 years ago, I can hold him accountable for lying about it and I fully intend to do so.”