21 March 2023

Trump loses last bid to keep key evidence out of rape trial

21 March 2023

Former US president Donald Trump’s attempt to keep key evidence out of his civil rape trial next month was rejected by a federal judge on Monday.

Judge Lewis A Kaplan in Manhattan ruled that key witnesses will be allowed to give evidence and misogynistic remarks Mr Trump made in 2005 when he apparently did not realise he was being recorded can be played for a jury which will hear rape allegations made by a former magazine columnist 25 years ago.

A trial in the case filed by E Jean Carroll is scheduled to start on April 25. Ms Carroll and Mr Trump are expected to give evidence.

Ms Carroll said in a 2019 memoir that she was raped by Mr Trump in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman, an upmarket Manhattan department store.

She said a chance encounter filled with lighthearted banter turned violent when they entered a small room while teasing one another about who would try on a piece of lingerie.

Mr Trump has repeatedly insisted he never met Ms Carroll at the store and that he did not know who she was.

During an October deposition, he misidentified a decades-old photograph of her as one of his ex-wives.

In the deposition, he was dismissive of Ms Carroll’s claims, saying: “Physically she’s not my type.”

Judge Kaplan had previously ruled that taped remarks Mr Trump made in an Access Hollywood tape could be used in a defamation case Ms Carroll brought against him before she filed her rape claim in November, when a temporary law took effect allowing adult rape victims to sue their abusers, even if attacks happened decades ago.

He also ruled that two women who made sexual abuse claims in circumstances similar to those alleged by Ms Carroll could give evidence at trial.

The Access Hollywood tape was revealed just weeks before Mr Trump won the November 2016 presidential election.

In the tape, he said that sometimes when he sees beautiful women: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

And he added that “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything”, including grabbing women between their legs.

Afterwards, he issued a rare apology, saying the comments were “locker room banter” caught on a hot mic.

Lawyers for Mr Trump and Ms Carroll had agreed that the defamation claim, made in a separate lawsuit, could be tried along with the rape claim, but the judge rejected that proposal on Monday, saying the defamation lawsuit could be tried separately or not at all if the Justice Department successfully replaces Mr Trump as a defendant with the United States.

In an order on Monday, Judge Kaplan ruled specifically that he would allow the Access Hollywood tape and evidence from two other women who say Mr Trump attacked them sexually to be included in next month’s trial, repeating his rulings from the defamation case.

“There is no reason, and Mr Trump has made no persuasive argument, for me to rule differently,” he wrote.

He also said he will allow evidence from two individuals who worked at the department store at the time of the alleged rape, even though Mr Trump’s lawyers objected, saying they had not been notified in a timely fashion of the testimony and had not had a chance to depose the witnesses.

The judge said lawyers for Ms Carroll had notified them of the witnesses in a timely fashion.

Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Ms Carroll, declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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