US jury hears closing arguments in lawsuit accusing Trump of rape

Lawyers for ex-President Donald Trump and writer E Jean Carroll make final statements in New York civil case.

A courtroom sketch, showing a woman in a purple suit standing and speaking, while monitors show an image of Donald Trump and E Jean Carroll sits nearby
A courtroom sketch depicts E Jean Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, delivering her closing argument in a civil trial against former US President Donald Trump on May 8 [Jane Rosenberg/Reuters]

A lawyer for former United States President Donald Trump has called a rape and defamation case brought by the writer E Jean Carroll an affront to the justice system.

During closing arguments in a civil trial in Manhattan federal court on Monday, lawyer Joseph Tacopina urged jurors to set aside any opinions they might have about Trump and reject what he called Carroll’s effort to “profit” from a false story.

“What E Jean Carroll has done here is an affront to justice. She has abused this system by bringing a false claim for — amongst other things — money, status, political reasons,” Tacopina said.

Trump has accused Carroll of making up the story to drive sales of her 2019 memoir, in which she made her claims public.

Carroll, 79, filed her lawsuit last year against Trump, 76, claiming he raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996, and then defamed her by denying it happened. The former Elle magazine advice columnist is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Her defamation claim concerns an October 2022 post on Trump’s Truth Social platform in which he called her allegations a “complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie”.

A woman in sunglasses and a bob haircut steps out of a grey vehicle, while a man in a suit stands to her side
E Jean Carroll arrives at a New York federal court for closing arguments in the case [Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

Earlier on Monday, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said a 2005 Access Hollywood video in which Trump says women let him “grab ’em by the p***y” bolstered the accounts of Carroll and other women who accuse Trump of sexual assault.

“He admitted on video to doing exactly the kinds of things that have brought us here to this courtroom,” Kaplan said in her closing argument.

Trump, who served as president from 2017 to 2021 and is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, waived his right to testify at trial and opted not to present a defence, gambling that jurors will find that Carroll failed to make a persuasive case.

Tacopina said Carroll’s inability to recall the date of the alleged incident made it impossible for Trump to defend himself.

“With no date, no month, no year, you can’t present an alibi, you can’t call witnesses,” he said. “What they want is for you to hate him enough to ignore the facts.”

Trump has not attended the trial, which began on April 25, but told reporters in Ireland last Thursday that he “probably” would attend.

Donald Trump, in a suit and blue tie, speaks into a microphone against a mauve background. A time stamp in the bottom of the picture indicates this is a video still
Trump answers questions in a video deposition, recorded on October 19, that was made public this month [Kaplan Hecker & Fink/AP Photo]

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll’s lawyer, said he expected jurors to begin deliberating on Tuesday.

In a video deposition played for the jury last Wednesday, Trump denied raping Carroll.

“It’s the most ridiculous, disgusting story,” Trump said in the video. “It’s just made up.”

‘One single pattern’

Carroll said during three days of testimony and cross-examination that Trump slammed her against the wall, put his fingers into her vagina and then inserted his penis.

Two of Carroll’s longtime friends testified that she told them about the attack shortly after it occurred and said they believed her.

Jurors also heard from two other women who said Trump sexually assaulted them in separate incidents decades ago. Trump denies those claims as well.

A blonde woman, dressed all in black, is photographed outside of a courthouse
Natasha Stoynoff arrives on May 8 for closing arguments after offering testimony that the former president assaulted her, as well [Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

“Three different women, decades apart, but one single pattern of behaviour,” Roberta Kaplan said, arguing that Trump’s defence was asking jurors to believe the “ridiculous” claim that the other witnesses conspired to lie.

Kaplan did not specify the amount of money jurors should award Carroll in compensatory and punitive damages.

She said Carroll had been unable to sustain a romantic relationship since the alleged rape and that Trump’s public criticism had harmed her client’s reputation.

“For E Jean Carroll, this lawsuit is not about the money,” Kaplan said. “This lawsuit is about getting her name back.”

Source: Reuters