A rape allegation filed against Former US President, Donald Trump by prominent former American columnist, who said he raped her in the 1990s is fixed to start today (Tuesday) in a civil trial.
The writer, identified as E. Jean Carroll, aged 79, said that Trump assaulted her sexually in a New York department shop, and that he later defamed her after she made the claims public.
Trump, who is dealing with a number of legal issues that could jeopardise his bid for a second term in office in 2024, refutes the accusations.
The trial started just a few weeks after his historic arraignment on charges of making a hush-money payment to a porn star shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, claims Trump raped her in the changing room of the posh Bergdorf Goodman department store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.
She claimed Trump asked her for shopping tips, prompting the attack.
Carroll first made the allegation in an excerpt from her book published by New York Magazine in 2019.
Trump responded then by saying he never met Carroll, that she was “not my type” and that she was “totally lying.”
Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in 2019 but was unable to include the rape claim because the statute of limitations for the alleged offense had expired.
But a new law took effect in November last year in New York that gives redress to victims of sexual assault decades after attacks may have occurred.
It gave sexual assault victims in the state a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers even when the abuse occurred long ago.
Lawyers for Carroll filed a new suit that accused Trump of battery, “when he forcibly raped and groped” her.
It also included defamation for a post that Trump made on his Truth Social platform where he denied the alleged rape and referred to Carroll as a “complete con job.”
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for psychological harm, pain and suffering, loss of dignity, and damage to her reputation.
Trump is not expected to testify as Carroll’s lawyers have said they do not intend to call him to the witness stand.
The trial will most likely last one to two weeks.
When Trump was detained in the hush-money case earlier this month, he became the first sitting or former president to be charged with a felony.
He is also being investigated for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, his suspected mishandling of confidential information obtained from the White House, and his involvement in the January 6, 2021 attack of the US Capitol.