E Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist, has started to testify in a civil trial, where she alleges that former United States President Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s and later defamed her when she came forward with her story.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn’t happen,” Carroll said in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”
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Trump was not present in the New York court, nor is he required to attend.
However, in the lead-up to Wednesday’s testimony, the former Republican president took to his social media site, Truth Social, to denounce the case as “a made up SCAM” and a “Witch Hunt”.
Those comments earned his legal team a rebuke in court from US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who warned Trump against making comments on social media that could be seen as discrediting the trial.
“What seems to be the case is that your client is basically endeavouring, certainly, to speak to his quote-unquote public, but, more troubling, the jury in this case, about stuff that has no business being spoken about,” Kaplan told Trump’s lawyers.
The case also has brought renewed attention to Trump’s history of derogatory rhetoric towards women. In October 2016, for instance, a video was released featuring Trump openly bragging that his status as a celebrity allowed him to grope women without their consent.
Carroll, now 79 years old, has alleged that Trump cornered her in a department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996, forced her against the wall and raped her. She said she was able to escape after several minutes.
Trump has denied the allegation and has stated that Carroll is not his “type”. The former president has repeatedly attacked her on social media, calling her case a “hoax”, “lie”, and “complete con job”.