Add one more legal bombshell to the multitude of lawsuits currently being navigated by Donald Trump and his bevy of D-list attorneys. E. Jean Carroll, the Elle magazine journalist who is already suing Trump for defamation, just announced that she filing to sue him for sexual battery under New York State’s newly passed Adult Survivors Act, which gives adult accusers in the state a one-year time period to file civil claims over past alleged sexual misconduct despite how long ago it occurred.
Carroll has accused Trump of assaulting her in the dressing room of New York City’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid 1990s. She chose not to report or prosecute the crime when it occurred, but revealed the incident in a 2019 New York magazine article over 20 years later — after Trump had wormed his way into the White House.
Trump naturally denied Carroll’s allegations, saying that she was “totally lying” and that he knew “nothing about her,” while snidely commenting that Carroll was “not his type.”
While it was by then too late under existing New York State statutes of limitations to press charges for the sexual assault that Carroll declines to describe as “rape” — since she refuses to use a “victim word” for a situation in which she fought back strenuously — the aggrieved journalist decided at the time instead to file a lawsuit against Trump for defamation. Carroll claimed in the suit that Trump’s characterization of her as a liar “damaged her reputation, substantially harmed her professionally, and caused emotional pain.”
As part of the lawsuit, Carroll’s attorney requested a DNA sample from Trump to compare against the unidentified male DNA on the black dress she was wearing when she alleges he attacked her. Over two years later, she is still waiting for that DNA while dealing with Trump’s numerous delaying tactics.
Those procrastination strategies included shifting the lawsuit from New York State courts to federal jurisdiction — since Trump claimed that his response to Carroll’s allegations was part of his official capacity as president. That claim also meant that he would be defended in the civil suit by the Department of Justice at American taxpayer expense.
With the defamation case now stalled in the appeals process, Carroll’s new suit under the Adult Survivors Act — which she intends to file in November as soon as the new law takes effect — gives her a new opportunity to hold Trump accountable for his actions against her and also provides a few new advantages over her previous suit.
For one thing, because Trump is thankfully no longer president, no DOJ mouthpieces will be representing him free of personal cost. He’ll have to pony up for his own legal team.
Also, Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan now plans to subpoena Trump to give a deposition in the civil case, the type of proceeding where any invocation of the Fifth Amendment can be considered in a negative light in the judge’s final decision. With Trump “unwilling to produce any documents in discovery,” according to Kaplan, a deposition will force Trump to testify under oath, not exactly something that Trump likes to do or is particularly good at.
Carroll and her attorney are smart to file their new suit as soon as legally possible. With Trump facing legal challenges in multiple jurisdictions at once, fitting a deposition into his busy calendar may be a monumental task.
Original reporting by Jonathan Stempel at Reuters.