E. Jean Carroll says in court, “I’m here because Donald Trump raped me”

Author E. Jean Carroll was called to testify in her case against former President Donald Trump for defamation and battery, as the civil trial enters its second day in Manhattan.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen. He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back,” Carroll told the court.

From afar, Trump repeated his insistence that Carroll’s allegations are fiction, writing on his social media site that the case “is a made-up scam,” and more. His comments prompted the judge to warn Trump’s lawyers that he could bring more legal problems upon himself.

Carroll appeared after the first witness, a former Bergdorf Goodman human resources manager named Cheryl Beall, who described a 6th-floor lingerie section that was generally quiet and sparsely populated, particularly on Thursday evenings. 

Writer E. Jean Carroll leaves as jury selection is set to begin in the defamation case against former US President Donald Trump brought by Carroll, who accused him of raping her in the 1990s, at the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 25, 2023.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Beall also said that changing room doors were often unattended, with the doors propped open.

Carroll, who used to write an advice column for Elle magazine, has alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman store in either 1995 or 1996, an accusation Trump denies. The civil trial stems from a lawsuit filed in November 2022, after New York passed a law that eliminated for one year the statute of limitations for adults who claim they were sexually assaulted. A previous lawsuit filed by Carroll in 2019 is still pending.

In opening statements, Shawn Crowley, an attorney for Carroll, said Monday that Trump and Carroll had bumped into each other at the department store, at first engaging in friendly banter as they walked through the store. 

“Hey, you’re that advice lady,” Trump allegedly said, according to Crowley. She said Carroll responded, “Hey, you’re that real estate tycoon.” 

At some point, the two allegedly entered a dressing room, and Crowley said Trump “suddenly” pushed Carroll against a changing room wall, raped her, and then tried to ruin her reputation after she told the story in 2019.

Graham Kates contributed to this report.

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