E. Jean Carroll testifies in battery, defamation case against Trump

NEW YORK — Long-time magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll took the stand Wednesday in her defamation and battery case against former President Donald Trump.

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Carroll has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the dressing room of a luxury department store in the 1990s. Trump has denied that the incident ever happened, telling The Hill in 2019 that “she’s not my type” and that she was “totally lying.”

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll said in court Wednesday, according to The New York Times. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”

She recounted the alleged assault for jurors, saying that she was initially pleased when Trump asked her to help him pick out a gift after they ran into each other at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan, The Times reported. She said they ended up in the lingerie section and found a bodysuit that Trump asked her to try on. She said she told him to put it on instead and followed him when he motioned her over to the dressing room.

She testified that things changed as soon as he closed them into a dressing room.

“I was extremely confused, and suddenly realizing that what I thought was happening was not happening,” she said, according to the Times. Later, she added, “It was high comedy, it was funny and then to have it turn …”

Carroll said Trump pushed her up against a wall, pulled down her tights and sexually assaulted her, calling the encounter “extremely painful,” The Washington Post reported. She said she was able to knee him and make her escape.

She testified that she blamed herself after the attack and that it left her “unable to ever have a romantic life again,” according to the Times.

“I always think about why I walked in there to get myself in that situation,” she said, the Post reported. “And I’m proud to say I did get out. I got my knee up, I pushed him back.”

Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegations, writing in a social media post Wednesday that the entire case “is a made up SCAM” and politically motivated.

Carroll first publicly accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2019, when New York Magazine published an excerpt from her book “What Do We Need Me For? A Modest Proposal.” She sued Trump later that year, accusing him of “malicious libel.”

The Justice Department sought to intervene in the case and replace itself with Trump, arguing that he was acting within the scope of his presidential duties when he denied the allegations. A judge rejected the argument in 2020, although an appeal is ongoing. If the courts side with the Justice Department, it would end Carroll’s case, as the federal government can’t be sued for defamation.

Carroll filed a new lawsuit last year accusing Trump of defaming her in 2022, after he left the White House, and battery. Jurors heard opening arguments in the trial on Tuesday.

The case is the latest legal challenge faced by the former president.

In March, a grand jury in New York indicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, making him the first president to face criminal charges. The charges came six months after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, accusing him of fraud.

In Georgia, the former president is facing an investigation into whether he or his allies broke the law in their efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss in the state. Federal authorities are also investigating his efforts to block President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win and classified records found after his presidency at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump announced last year that he plans to join the 2024 presidential race.