What were the allegations in E Jean Carroll’s rape case against Donald Trump?
The encounter, as recalled by E Jean Carroll, was friendly at first.
Ms Carroll, then a magazine feature writer and TV host, bumped into Donald Trump in the upmarket New York department store Bergdorf Goodman.
As Ms Carroll wrote in her 2019 memoir What Do We Need Men For?, he recognised her as “that advice lady”. She knew him as “that real-estate tycoon”.
Mr Trump supposedly told her that he was there to buy a gift for “a girl”, and asked for help to choose an appropriate item. She placed the incident in either late 1995 or early 1996, when the future president was married to Marla Maples.
The pair made their way to the lingerie section, where Mr Trump suggested that she try on a lace bodysuit. She claims she jokingly said that he should try it on instead.
As they reached the dressing rooms, Ms Carroll alleges that Mr Trump shoved her against a wall, put his hands underneath her dress and pulled down her tights.
He then unzipped his pants, and “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me”, she wrote.
A “colossal struggle” ensued, she said, and Ms Carroll eventually pushed him away and ran out of the dressing room. The episode was over in under three minutes, she wrote.
On 9 May the jury in the civil case returned a verdict that Mr Trump was liable for sexually abusing Ms Carroll, but not raping her, and awarded the writer a total of $5m in damages, which includes the defamation claim.
In the courtroom, the clerk read the verdict: “As to battery, did Ms Carroll prove that Mr Trump raped Ms Carroll?” The jury answered “No”.
The jury also found Mr Trump liable for wonton disregard, for which Ms Carroll was awarded $20,000, according to Inner City Press.
Mr Trump was also found liable for defamation as the jury found that he made false statements about Ms Carroll.
The jury found that Mr Trump acted with actual malice and that Ms Carroll had been injured, for which she was awarded $1m. For repairing her reputation, Ms Carroll was awarded $1.7m.
After the allegations were first made in a book excerpt in New York magazine in June 2019, Mr Trump angrily denied it.
"I've never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section,” he said in an official White House statement that month.
Then days later in an interview in the Oval Office with The Hill, Mr Trump went even further.
“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?”
Ms Carroll then filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr Trump alleging he had damaged her reputation, substantially harmed her professionally, and caused emotional pain.
After writing her Ask E Jean column for Elle magazine for nearly 30 years, the magazine terminated her contract abruptly in December of that year. The magazine denied it was related to Ms Carroll’s allegations.
Months after Ms Carroll filed against Mr Trump, the Department of Justice intervened and transferred the case to federal court, arguing that he was immune from prosecution as president at the time of the initial defamation.
But the federal court disagreed with the position of the DoJ and allowed discovery in the case to continue.
When the former president failed to have the case dismissed last October, he took to Truth Social to again unleash his denial, and unwittingly at the same time allowed Ms Carroll to file the new defamation claim.
In 2022, New York passed the Adult Survivors Act which allowed adult sexual assault survivors one year to sue their alleged abusers.
Ms Carroll filed a second lawsuit against Mr Trump for rape and for additional alleged defamatory statements made by him in October 2022 where he called her a “complete con job”. It is this second case for which court proceedings began on 25 April.
In a court filing earlier this year, Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that the central issue in both cases is the same — whether Mr Trump raped Ms Carroll.
“If he did not, then Ms Carroll’s sexual assault claim ... and her libel claims in both cases likely would fail. If he did, then little would remain in either case except perhaps a few minor issues related to Mr Trump’s statements and determination of damages,” it read.
Ms Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said they tried for three years to obtain Mr Trump’s DNA sample to compare it with stains found on the dress she was wearing on the day.
After refusing to provide a sample, Mr Trump’s attorneys then made an 11th-hour offer to do so earlier this year. Judge Kaplan rejected the offer.
As the case is being tried in civil court, the jury will likely be asked to find whether there is “a preponderance of evidence” to prove Ms Carroll’s claims, rather than the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Over the course of the trial so far, Ms Carroll’s witnesses have included the columnist herself, friends who she spoke to about allegations at the time, mental health experts, and a few of the more than two dozen women who have accused Mr Trump of sexual assault.
Ms Carroll took the stand on 26 April, testifying that she and Mr Trump were shopping around the department store at the time when he asked her to try on a piece of lingerie that he was looking to purchase – a blue bodysuit.
“He was having a good time, and so was I,” Ms Carroll said, adding that the two were harmlessly flirting with one another.
As the two reached the dressing room, Ms Carroll said Mr Trump “shut the door and shoved me up against the wall.”
“I was confused. I laughed,” Ms Carroll said.
She said she pushed Mr Trump back but he “thrust” her into the wall again.
From there, Ms Carroll described how Mr Trump pulled down her tights and inserted his fingers into her vagina.
“It was extremely painful,” Ms Carroll recalled emotionally. “It was a horrible feeling. He put his hand inside me and curled his finger. As I sit here today, I can still feel it.”
When asked if she screamed for help or told Mr Trump to stop, Ms Carroll said, “I’m not a screamer. I’m a fighter.”
Ms Carroll alleges Mr Trump then inserted his penis and began to rape her.
“I wonder why I walked in there, to get in that situation... I’m proud to say I got out of there,” Ms Carroll.
After the assault, Ms Carroll said she left the department store quickly and called her friend, Lisa Birnbach. Later on, Ms Carroll would tell Carol Martin, an anchorwoman at ABC, about the assault, but did not confide in many others.
Ms Carroll said she felt “very stupid” for going into the dressing room. She described how the alleged rape left her “unable to ever have a romantic life again.”
Later on, Ms Carroll elaborated on her inability to form and maintain romantic relationships saying that because she was allegedly raped by Mr Trump after flirting with him, it hindered her ability to engage with men.
For the defence, Mr Trump’s attorneys initially included him, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and several others on their list of potential witnesses. But on 3 May, his lawyers announced that they would not be presenting any witnesses – or a defence case.
After the legal teams rested their cases on 4 May, Judge Lewis Kaplan gave Mr Trump until 5pm on 7 May to decide if he was going to testify in the trial. The judge’s comments came after Mr Trump said he would cut his golfing trip to Scotland and Ireland short to “confront” Ms Carroll, but the deadline passed without the Trump legal team filing a motion to include Mr Trump in the proceedings.
Ariana Baio contributed to this report.