Trump Sued For Rape In New E. Jean Carroll Lawsuit As N.Y. Law Expected To Spark Flood Of Sexual Assault Suits

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Topline

Writer E. Jean Carroll sued former President Donald Trump Thursday for sexual assault including rape in the first degree—her second lawsuit against the ex-president—part of an expected rush of lawsuits as a New York law takes effect that gives victims of sexual assault a one-year period to file litigation even after the statute of limitations has expired.

Key Facts

Carroll sued Trump in federal court in New York for battery after he allegedly “forcibly raped and groped” her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s, which the lawsuit alleges “severely injured Carroll, causing significant pain and suffering, lasting psychological harms, loss of dignity, and invasion of her privacy.”

The civil lawsuit accuses Trump of rape in the first and third degree; sexual abuse in the first and third degree; sexual misconduct and forcible touching, and asks the court to award Carroll an unspecified amount in damages.

It also accuses Trump of defamation after the ex-president railed against Carroll on his Truth Social platform in October, calling her allegations against him “a Hoax and a lie”—separate from Carroll’s initial lawsuit accusing Trump of defamation based on similar comments he made in 2019.

Carroll filed the lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, as the one-year window opened Thursday for adult victims of sexual assault to file litigation even after the statute of limitations has expired.

Other lawsuits expected under the Adult Survivors Act include litigation by Jeffrey Epstein victim Liz Stein, who told the Associated Press she plans to sue Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell and other parties, and lawsuits against the state of New York from at least 750 people who allege they were assaulted by staff at state correctional facilities.

What To Watch For

Carroll’s attorneys are asking for her new lawsuit against Trump to be tried at the same time as the first defamation lawsuit she filed. A trial in that case is currently set for February, but the writer asked the court last week to push it back to April 2023 to accommodate the second case. It’s also still in doubt whether Carroll’s initial case will move forward at all, however, as an appeals court in Washington, D.C., is now weighing the issue of whether Trump was acting within the scope of his employment as president when he made the allegedly defamatory comments about her in 2019. If he was acting as president at the time, that would mean Carroll’s case would fail, as her lawsuit would be against the United States instead of Trump as a private citizen, and the U.S. cannot be sued for defamation.

Big Number

Nearly 11,000. That’s how many lawsuits were brought under a similar New York law that gave a two-year window for child victims of sexual assault to bring lawsuits from 2019 to 2021, which the Adult Survivors Act was modeled after, according to nonprofit CHILD USA. The AP reports that while the adult law is expected to bring in at least hundreds of legal claims, it’s unclear if the number of lawsuits filed will be as high as the child law. Bringing litigation under that law was particularly attractive to lawyers, the AP notes, given the possibility of expensive settlements against institutions responsible for caring for children.

Chief Critic

Trump has heavily denied Carroll’s allegations against him—provoking her subsequent defamation suit against him—and unsuccessfully countersued her alleging she was making “baseless” accusations against him.

Surprising Fact

Though Habba is representing Trump in Carroll’s initial lawsuit, the attorney said at a court hearing Tuesday she still doesn’t know if she’ll represent him in the new lawsuit as well, despite the fact it’s been known since August that Carroll would file litigation under the Adult Survivors Act. “Your client in the present action, Ms. Habba, has known this was coming for months and he would be well advised to decide who’s representing him in it because that will have to be resolved promptly,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who’s hearing Carroll’s first Trump defamation suit, said in court Tuesday, as quoted by Insider.

Key Background

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the Adult Survivors Act into law in May, after the legislation had previously stalled in the state legislature under previous Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) as he faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct. Though other states have enacted similar laws for child abuse victims, New York is only the second state after New Jersey to expand the litigation window to those whose abuse took place as adults. Carroll’s second lawsuit comes three years after the writer initially sued Trump in federal court in November 2019, accusing him of defamation after she first went public with her rape allegations against him in June of that year. That case has moved slowly amid the debate over whether Trump could be sued for defamation as president, after the Justice Department inserted itself in the case in 2020 and asked for it to be dismissed. Kaplan rejected that argument and ruled in Carroll’s favor in October 2020, but an appeals court then threw out that ruling in September and sent the question of whether Trump was acting within the scope of his employment to a different appeals court. The Justice Department has continued to defend Trump in the case even under Joe Biden’s presidency, saying in a 2021 court filing that while Trump’s comments were “crude and disrespectful,” it ultimately believes the comments fell into the scope of his employment as president and thus Carroll’s case should be dismissed.

Further Reading

E. Jean Carroll Case: What To Know About The Defamation Suit Accusing Trump Of Rape (Forbes)

Wave of sex abuse lawsuits seen as NY opens door for victims (Associated Press)

Writer Who Accused Trump of Rape to File New Defamation Lawsuit (New York Times)

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