E. Jean Carroll had publicly shared a secret in June that she had kept largely to herself for more than two decades: Donald Trump, she said, had raped her in the dressing room of an upscale department store in New York City.
President Trump denied the allegations. He called Carroll a liar, intent on selling a new book. He said he had never met her, despite a photo of the two of them together in the 1980s. He told reporters that he would not have assaulted Carroll because she "is not my type."
Now Carroll, a journalist and columnist for Elle Magazine, has sued Trump for defamation, saying in a lawsuit filed in state court Monday that Trump had damaged her reputation and her career when he denied her allegation in June.
His statements about Carroll, the lawsuit said, "are fully consistent with his tried-and-true playbook for responding to credible public reports that he sexually assaulted women."
Another woman, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's television show The Apprentice, has filed a similar lawsuit against the president, saying he defamed her when he called her a liar after she said he had sexually harassed her during a business meeting.
The suits raise the possibility that the president will have to defend his statements in court, and evidence about the truth of the allegations will come out.
"When Carroll's account of what had happened to her was published, Donald Trump not only denied the rape, but denied ever having met Carroll or knowing who she was," said Robbie Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll. "But Trump knew his statements were false and defamatory — he knew who Carroll was that day at Bergdorf Goodman and he knows who she is now."
At least 10 women accused Trump of sexual misconduct during the presidential campaign in 2016.
Trump also suggested that Carroll was conspiring with the Democratic Party to hurt him politically.
The president's remarks, the lawsuit states, "injured the reputation on which she makes her livelihood and attracts readers." Carroll said in the lawsuit that readers no longer wanted to write to a woman who the president had branded a liar and that her column has received 50% less letters from readers.
Trump's lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carroll disclosed the alleged attack, which she said happened in late 1995 or early 1996, in a book and spoke publicly about it. She said that she was leaving Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury department store on Fifth Avenue, when she saw Trump entering the store.
The two had met once before and traveled in the same media circles, she said. At the time, Carroll was the host of a daily television show and a frequent guest on NBC's "Today" show.
Trump, she said, stopped her and said, "Hey, you're that advice lady!"
Trump then told her he was looking for a gift for a woman and asked Carroll to help him. Carroll suggested several items before Trump decided on lingerie, the lawsuit stated.
Trump spotted a lilac bodysuit and insisted Carroll try it on, to which she suggested that he try it on. According to the lawsuit, Trump grabbed Carroll by the arm, walked her over to the dressing room and said, "Let's put this on."
He suddenly lunged at her, pushed her against a wall and kissed her, she said in the lawsuit. She pushed him away and he then pinned her against the wall, pulled down her tights and raped her. The attack she said lasted up to three minutes.
"No one, not even the president, is above the law," Carroll said in a statement Monday. "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."
Written by: Jan Ransom
Photographs by: Todd Heisler
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