Writer and longtime women’s advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has previously accused Donald Trump of raping her two decades ago in a Manhattan department store, filed a defamation lawsuit against the president Monday for claiming she lied about the alleged incident.
The lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court alleges Trump “insulted” and falsely denied her June allegation that he raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.
“Nobody in this nation is above the law. Nobody is entitled to conceal acts of sexual assault behind a wall of defamatory falsehoods and deflections,” the suit alleges. “The rape of a woman is a violent crime; compounding that crime with acts of malicious libel is abhorrent.”
Trump vehemently denied Carroll’s accusations, which were published in a bombshell New York magazine cover story, saying in a statement that he has “never met this person in my life.” He claimed the writer’s allegations had been fabricated for monetary gain related to her latest book.
“She is trying to sell a new book—that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section,” the president said. “Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get any publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda—like Julie Swetnick, who falsely accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It’s just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence.”
In Monday’s lawsuit, Carroll, 75, alleges the president’s statements ruined her reputation, career, and self-esteem. She wants Trump to retract his statements and is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” the lawsuit alleges. “No person in this country should be above the law—including the president.”
Carroll’s claim is one of six alleged sexual assaults the former “Ask E. Jean” columnist detailed in her latest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. The assault was also recounted in Monday’s lawsuit.
“In the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996,” Carroll alleges she met Trump inside Bergdorf Goodman, where the then-real-estate mogul recognized her as “that advice lady” and asked for her help buying a gift for “a girl.”
“She stuck around, imagining the funny stories that she might later recount,” the lawsuit alleges.
While the two wandered the lingerie section, Carroll says Trump suggested she put on a lace bodysuit. Carroll says she agreed to try on the undergarment, but when the pair reached the dressing room, Trump allegedly shoved her against a wall, pulled down her tights, and forced “his fingers around my private area” before thrusting “his penis halfway—or completely.”
“Carroll resisted, struggling to break free,” the lawsuit alleges. “She tried to stomp his foot with her high feels. She tried to push away with one free hand (as she kept holding her purse with the other). Finally, she raised a knee up high enough to push him out and off her.”
After the “three-minute incident,” the writer said she immediately told two journalist friends—one of whom encouraged her to file a police report, while the other allegedly told her to just forget about it.
“Tell no one. Forget it! He has two hundred lawyers. He’ll bury you,” the friend, later identified as journalist and news anchor Carol Martin, allegedly said.
The lawsuit alleges Carroll continued to take her friend’s advice for two decades, until the 2016 presidential election when the writer “watched in horror as numerous women offered highly credible (and painfully familiar) accounts of Trump assaulting them.”
Throughout the election, at least 13 women came forward to accuse the future president of sexual misconduct—which he has repeatedly denied. One month before the election, the 2005 Access Hollywood videotape emerged showing Trump making lewd comments about groping women.
Despite these mounting claims, Carroll alleges in the lawsuit she also kept quiet because her mother, “a respected Republican official in Indiana, was dying during the last six weeks of the presidential election,” and she wanted “to make her mother’s last days as pleasant as possible and avoid causing her any pain.”
She said that by 2017, when disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein was publicly accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, she’d had enough. That’s when she began to write her book accusing several high-profile men, including former CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves, of sexual misconduct, according to the court documents.
“It suddenly seemed possible that even Trump could be held to account,” the lawsuit states.