Timeline: E. Jean Carroll v. Donald Trump and the Defamation Legal Battle

Jean Carroll sits alongside lawyers Joshua Matz and Marcella Coburn during a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump at a courthouse in New York, U.S. October 21, 2020 in this coutroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg/File Photo

By Susanna Granieri

Former Elle Magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll accused former President Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in late 1995 or early 1996 in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in her memoir “What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal.” An excerpt of her memoir was published in New York Magazine’s The Cut in June 2019. 

Carroll filed her first defamation lawsuit against Trump in 2019 which referenced three allegedly defamatory statements he made following the release of her excerpt in which he said he didn’t know Carroll and she wasn’t his “type.” A trial in that suit “could prove unnecessary,” Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled, and paused it indefinitely. 

Carroll sued Trump for the second time in 2022 for defamation and battery, in which she claimed Trump’s actions account for offenses including rape in the first and third degree, sexual abuse in the first and third degree, sexual misconduct and forcible touching.

The battery claim was brought under the Adult Survivors Act, which went into effect in November 2022 and provides a one-year window for sexual assault survivors who were 18 years or older at the time of their assault to file civil proceedings against their alleged abusers despite the statute of limitations. The defamation claim in the suit focuses on an October 2022 statement Trump shared on Truth Social, a Twitter-like platform owned by the Trump Media and Technology Group.

Before Carroll joined Elle Magazine as an advice columnist, she wrote for “Saturday Night Live.” In 1993, Carroll joined Elle, where her advice column ran until 2020. From 1994 to 1996, Carroll hosted and produced “Ask E. Jean,” a television series that aired on NBC.

The legal battle between Trump and Carroll has been ongoing since 2019. While the trial in her first lawsuit is currently on hold, Trump was found liable for defamation and sexual abuse by a jury of six men and three women May 9 in the second lawsuit. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages.

First Amendment Watch created an interactive timeline of the legal battle, excluding numerous procedural maneuvers in the case, but reflecting the key defamation arguments from June 2019 through May 2023.

Updated May 23, 2023. 

Click to make the timeline full screen