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E. Jean Carroll says ‘shameful’ feelings kept her from reporting alleged assault by Trump

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(NEW YORK) — Former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, testifying Monday in her civil defamation and battery case against former President Donald Trump, told the jury she didn’t report the alleged attack to police because she felt it was “shameful” to do so.

Carroll, who brought the lawsuit in November, alleges that Trump defamed her in a 2022 Truth Social post by calling her allegations “a Hoax and a lie” and saying “This woman is not my type!” when he denied her claim that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the 1990s.

She added a charge of battery under a recently adopted New York law that allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged attacker regardless of the statute of limitations. Trump has denied all allegations that he raped Carroll or defamed her.

Asked by her attorney, Michael Ferrara, why she never went to the authorities, Carroll said, “Because Donald Trump was very powerful.”

“First of all, I wouldn’t go to the police. It was shameful to go to the police,” Carroll said. “Donald Trump had too much power. I didn’t think the police would take me seriously.”

Earlier Monday, under cross examination by defense attorney Joe Tacopina, Carroll also said she didn’t report the alleged attack because, as a woman born in the 1940s, she’s a member of the “silent generation” that didn’t speak up about such things. The exchange came after Tacopina introduced several of her advice columns for Elle magazine in which she suggested that her readers call police in the event of a sexual assault or threat.

“There were numerous times where you’ve advised your readers to call the police” despite Carroll never reporting her own alleged rape to police, Tacopina said to Carroll.

“In most cases I advised my readers to go to the police,” Carroll replied.

“I was born in 1943,” she said. “I am a member of the silent generation. Women like me were taught to keep our chins up and not complain. The fact that I never went to the police is not surprising for someone my age. I would rather have done anything than call the police.”

The answer was stricken from the record as nonresponsive to the question posed, but the exchange continued the defense’s questioning of Carroll’s actions following the alleged assault, and their suggestions that her behavior — not going to the police, not seeking security camera footage, continuing to shop at Bergdorf’s — is at odds with how other sex assault victims might behave.

Tacopina asked Carroll about her shopping habits, saying, “You’ve made many purchases at Bergdorf’s since 1995-96?”

“I’ve not made many but I’ve made several,” Carroll replied.

Tacopina displayed an itemized list of 23 purchases Carroll made from 2001-2018 totaling more than $13,000, and said the purchases made it clear that Carroll was not afraid to enter the store where she was allegedly assaulted.

“Bergdorf’s is not a place that I’m afraid to enter,” Carroll said.

Carroll concluded her three days on the witness stand by sharing an email she received last year right after Trump denied her claims on Truth Social.

The email, from a sender Carroll said she does not know, says, among other things, that Carroll is a “disgusting low life liar” who is “going to get hurt very badly.” The email concludes, “better end the bulls–t quick b—h.”

Carroll said the email is similar to countless other communications she received after Trump’s allegedly defamatory statement.

The former columnist also denied that she borrowed her rape claim from an episode of the TV crime drama “Law & Order.”

“You know there’s a ‘Law & Order’ episode from 2012 that featured a woman getting raped in the Bergdorf Goodman dressing room?” Tacopina asked Carroll during his cross-examination.

“I am aware,” replied Carroll, who went public with her claim in 2019.

Carroll’s attorney objected to the line of questioning but the judge allowed it.

“The ‘Law & Order’ writers are very good at keying in to the psyche of their viewers,” Carroll said. “That was amazing to me.”

“What do you mean, amazing coincidence?” Tacopina asked.

“Astonishing,” Carroll said.

“Astonishing coincidence,” Tacopina started to say before an objection from the plaintiff’s side that the judge sustained.

On re-direct, Carroll ‘s attorney asked her, “Are you making up your accusation based on what happened in a popular TV show?”

“No,” Carroll responded.

Carroll also testified under cross-examination that she wanted more publicity for her 2019 book in which she made the rape allegation.

Tacopina walked Carroll through the numerous interviews she gave after going public with her claim, then showed her an email in which she indicated she was upset with her public relations firm, 42 West, for not getting her more.

“My feelings were hurt that nobody cared about the book,” Carroll testified. “The book was not selling. The book was a dud. It was an absolute dud.”

In interviews, Carroll described her life as “fabulous” since the publication of her book — but said on cross-examination that it was a front.

“That is what I’d like my life to appear to be,” Carroll said. “I say it quite a bit. That is how I want people to perceive it.”

Carroll said that, as an advice columnist, she sees herself as solving other people’s problems and not soliciting advice for her own.

“The column is not called ‘E. Jean Asks People for Their Advice,” Carroll said. “I don’t want anyone to know that I suffer. Up until now I would be ashamed to know that people know what is actually going on.”

Tacopina also suggested that Carroll tried to influence the testimony of Natasha Stoynoff, a former reporter for People magazine who is expected to testify later in the trial that Trump sexually assaulted her when she interviewed him at his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2005.

“The evidence will show that Ms. Stoynoff — Mr. Trump led Ms. Stoynoff to an empty room, claiming that he wanted to show her something there. As soon as they got inside, Trump closed the door, grabbed Ms. Stoynoff’s shoulders, pushed her against the wall, and started kissing her,” Carroll’s attorney Shawn Crowley said during opening statements.

Tacopina read excerpts of an interview Carroll conducted with Stoynoff in 2020 and suggested that Carroll repeatedly tried to get Stoynoff to say that Trump was “grinding” against her.

“I didn’t get her to try to say that he did,” Carroll said. “I asked her to think whether it was a possibility.”

Stoynoff is one of two women, in addition to Carroll, who have been allowed to testify about alleged sexual assault by Trump, who denies all of their claims. The other, Jessica Leeds, is expected to testify that Trump assaulted her on an airplane in 1979.

The defense also played an excerpt of an interview Carroll gave to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in which she is heard saying that most people think of rape as sexy. Tacopina asked whether she still believes that.

“In our culture we are saturated with entertainment shows which continually show rapes to gather an audience,” Carroll said, citing Game of Thrones as an example.

“You’re comparing television rape scenes to real life rape scenes?” Tacopina asked. “No,” Carroll said. “To me rape is the most horrible, violent act that can be done against a woman or a man.”

Tacopina asked Carroll about a time she was in the store with Lisa Birnbach, one of two women Carroll has said she told about the alleged rape by Trump.

“That day where you were discussing your niece’s wedding dresses, having champagne with Lisa, did the alleged attack ever enter your head?” Tacopina asked.

“I don’t remember,” Carroll answered. “This was a very happy occasion. I wasn’t there to remember the time in the dressing room in 1996.”

The nine-member jury of six men and three women is weighing Carroll’s defamation and battery claims and deciding potential monetary damages.

Carroll began her third day of testimony Monday after the judge in the case denied the defense’s request for a mistrial.

In a letter sent early Monday morning to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Tacopina requested that a mistrial be declared on the grounds that the judge had mischaracterized elements of the case and improperly shut down certain lines of questioning during cross examination last week.

Tacopina said he should have been allowed to explore why Carroll did not pursue security camera footage from Bergdorf Goodman and why Carroll did not go to the police following the alleged assault.

“[P]roof that Plaintiff never attempted to determine if any such footage of the parties existed constitutes circumstantial evidence that her accusation is false,” the letter said.

Kaplan denied Tacopina’s request for a mistrial before testimony resumed Monday morning. He offered no reason for the denial.

Carroll’s lawsuit is her second against Trump related to her rape allegation.

She previously sued Trump in 2019 after the then-president denied her rape claim by telling The Hill that Carroll was “totally lying,” saying, “I’ll say it with great respect: No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” That defamation suit has been caught in a procedural back-and-forth over the question of whether Trump, as president, was acting in his official capacity as an employee of the federal government when he made those remarks.

If Trump is determined to have been acting as a government employee, the U.S. government would substitute as the defendant in that suit — which means that case would go away, since the government cannot be sued for defamation.

This month’s trial is taking place as Trump seeks the White House for a third time, while facing numerous legal challenges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, his handling of classified material after leaving the White House, and possible attempts to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 vote. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said last week she would decide whether to file criminal charges against Trump or his allies this summer.

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