Judge rejects 'absurd' Trump bid to dismiss rape accuser's lawsuit

E Jean Carroll has accused former US president of defamation after he denied assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s

Former US president Donald Trump. AP
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A US judge on Friday rejected as “absurd” former president Donald Trump's effort to dismiss writer E Jean Carroll's lawsuit accusing him of defamation and battery after he denied raping her in the mid-1990s.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said there was no merit to Mr Trump's argument that Ms Carroll's battery claim under New York's Adult Survivors Act must be dismissed because the law denied him due process under the state's constitution.

The judge also said state law did not require Ms Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, to prove that she suffered an economic loss from Mr Trump's comments, as the former president had argued.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Mr Trump, said they were “disappointed with the court's decision” and that the team planned an immediate appeal.

Roberta Kaplan, Ms Carroll's lawyer, said they were “pleased though not surprised” at the decision.

The lawsuit is one of two in which Ms Carroll accuses Mr Trump of defamation after he denied raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996.

Ms Carroll first sued Mr Trump after he denied the accusation in June 2019, telling a reporter at the White House that he did not know Ms Carroll, that “she's not my type” and that she concocted the claim to sell her new memoir.

The second lawsuit arose from an October 2022 social media post in which Mr Trump called the rape claim a “hoax”, a “lie”, a “con job” and a “complete scam”, saying “this can only happen to 'Trump'!”

That lawsuit included the battery claim under the Adult Survivors Act, which, starting last November 24, gave adults a one-year window to sue their alleged attackers even if statutes of limitations had expired.

Mr Kaplan said Mr Trump was “demonstrably incorrect” to claim that the law was unconstitutional because lawmakers did not sufficiently explain why it was needed.

The judge said lawmakers had passed the law to help sexual abuse victims who might have suppressed memories of their attacks, or, like Ms Carroll were deterred from suing out of fear.

“To suggest that the ASA violates the state due process clause because the legislature supposedly did not describe that injustice to the defendant's entire satisfaction in a particular paragraph of a particular type of legislative document — itself a dubious premise — is absurd,” Mr Kaplan wrote.

He and Mr Carroll are awaiting a decision from a Washington appeals court on whether, under local law, Mr Trump should be immune from Ms Carroll's first lawsuit over his June 2019 comments.

That lawsuit is likely to be dismissed if the court decides that Mr Trump spoke within his role as president, and continue if he spoke in a personal capacity, as Ms Carroll argued.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 11:57 PM