Writer E. Jean Carroll took the stand as a witness in her lawsuit against former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, telling jurors: «I’m here because Trump raped me.»
When he came forward with his allegations in 2019, Trump «lied and ruined my reputation, and I’m trying to get my life back,» Carroll said during testimony in the civil trial in federal court in Lower Manhattan.
Carroll, 79, said she met Trump — who has said he doesn’t know who she is and had never met her — in 1987 at a «Saturday Night Live» party, where she was a writer at the time. She said she believes that’s where a photo of her with Trump, her then-wife Ivana of hers and Carroll’s husband at the time, who was a popular local newscaster, was taken.
Carroll, who previously wrote an advice column for Elle magazine, said the next time she spoke to Trump was when she ran into him at the Bergdorf Goodman department store near Trump Tower in 1995 or 1996.
«He said, ‘You’re that advice lady,’ and I said, ‘You’re that real estate mogul,'» she told jurors. «It was very nice.»
Carroll said Trump, who at the time was married to model Marla Maples, told her he was there to buy someone a gift and asked if she would help him. They first went to bags and then hats before Trump suggested they go to the lingerie section on the sixth floor, he said.
«He was very talkative on the escalator and said he was thinking of buying Bergdorf,» Carroll said. «I was thinking, ‘I have a great story,’ and I was thrilled to be going into lingerie» with him. She said that they later looked at the underwear together and «he was joking and personable and so much fun.»
Carroll said they each suggested the other try on lingerie, adding that she thought it was fun. She said that she «didn’t think anything about what was about to happen» because the door was open when he waved her into the dressing room.
Trump then «shut the door and pushed me against the wall,» Carroll said. «I pushed him back and he pushed me against the wall, hitting my head.»
«He put his shoulder against me and held me against the wall,» she testified. Carroll broke down in tears when she recalled in her testimony that Trump penetrated her.
«I couldn’t see anything happening, but I could certainly feel that pain,» he said.
The attack lasted «a very few minutes,» he said, and then he ran out of the store before calling a friend to tell him what had happened.
Carroll said the friend, the writer Lisa Birnbach, who is expected to testify at the trial, encouraged her to go to the police. She said that she replied, «No way.»
«I thought it was my fault,» he said.
Carroll sued Trump for assault over the alleged rape, as well as defamation over his claims that she fabricated her story to promote her book sales and raise her public profile.
Since the alleged assault, Carroll told jurors Wednesday that she has not been in a romantic relationship with anyone and has not had sexual relations. She said she «always believed» that what happened with Trump had a «strong influence» on her inability to find romance.
«I found it impossible to believe that I could meet anyone, impossible to even fall in love or have dinner and smile,» said Carroll, who began to cry on the stand.
She said she missed «being in love with someone else,» which she said is «one of the glorious things» in life. «I am aware of how much I lost and I feel like I should be able to get over it.»
Carroll said she has been back at Bergdorf Goodman since it happened and said she hasn’t been provoking it. She said that she has talked to a therapist about it, but she said that he didn’t diagnose her with anything.
Carroll also told jurors that when she was 12, she was «patted» by the waterfront director of a Girl Scout camp when he took her out on a boat after she won a contest. «I didn’t tell anyone else,» she said of the alleged incident.
When Trump announced he was running for president, she said she didn’t think he was a good commander-in-chief «because he was mean, because he raped me» and «his politics were terrible.»
Carroll went on to say that after New York Magazine published an excerpt from his book, Trump responded with «insults [and] threats».
“He knows it happened,” Carroll said, adding that she was surprised by Trump’s response to the excerpt from the book.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegations, including in posts on his Truth Social social media website as recently as Wednesday morning.
In two statements about the case shortly before testimony began, Trump called Carroll’s allegations «fraudulent and false» and a «SCAM.»
He also mentioned in his Truth Social posts two issues that the judge in the case, the US District Judge, had to do with the payment of Carroll’s legal fees.
The comment on Trump’s DNA evidence involved the dress Carroll said she was wearing on the day of the alleged attack, which has a small amount of «genetic material» from an unidentified man. Carroll’s lawyers had asked Trump for a DNA sample for comparison, but never sought a court order for the sample.
Trump’s lawyers never provided a sample, and the judge ruled in February that neither party could raise the issue at trial.
In his post on Wednesday, Trump wrote: “She said there was a dress, using Monica Lewinsky’s ‘stuff,’ and then she didn’t want to produce it. The dress must be allowed to be part of the case.”
The judge told Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, that his client had refused to provide a DNA sample for three years, «and now you want it in the case?»
Trump’s posts also complained that Carroll obtained financial support for her lawsuit from a Democratic donor, something she denied when she was initially declared in the case but later acknowledged. The judge is scheduled to rule this week on whether the omission can be reported to the jury, and has instructed both sides not to say anything to the jury in the meantime.
«Your client may be manipulating a new source of potential liability. And I think you know what I mean,» Kaplan told Tacopina.
Tacopina said he would ask Trump not to publicize the case.
The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.