Trump, rape accuser Carroll agree to a single defamation trial
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll have agreed to a single trial on whether Trump defamed the former Elle magazine columnist by denying he raped her in the mid-1990s.
According to a letter filed late Friday in Manhattan federal court, lawyers for both sides agreed to an April 25 trial to consider whether the former U.S. president should be liable for critical statements about Carroll in June 2019 and last October.
Carroll has been pursuing separate lawsuits over those statements, with the first scheduled for trial on April 10.
"Because of the overlapping nature of these proceedings, a single trial will reduce costs across the board, avoid the risk of inconsistent factual rulings or jury confusion, and economize matters for the court," her lawyer Roberta Kaplan wrote.
The proposed schedule requires approval by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversees both cases and is not related to Roberta Kaplan.
Alina Habba, one of Trump's lawyers, signed a proposed order combining the cases. Joseph Tacopina, another lawyer for Trump, in an email said he also found it acceptable.
A trial would come in the midst of Trump's campaign for a second White House term.
Carroll, 79, has accused Trump of raping her in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in late 1995 or early 1996.
She sued in November 2019 after Trump told a reporter at the White House that he did not know her, that "she's not my type," and that she concocted the rape claim to sell her memoir.
Carroll sued again three years later after Trump called the rape claim a "hoax," "lie," "con job" and "complete scam" in a social media post.
The second lawsuit also includes a battery claim under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which lets sexual abuse victims sue their attackers even if statutes of limitations have run out.
A Washington, D.C. appeals court is deciding whether Trump should be immune from Carroll's first lawsuit, but not her second, because he was acting as president when he spoke.
Both sides proposed asking that court on April 17 to defer any decision until the trial is over. A trial could last five to seven days, court papers show.
The cases are Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 20-07311 and 22-10016.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)