MANHATTAN (CN) — Three women are expected to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault at a civil trial starting next month, following a ruling Friday that also allowed into evidence the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during Trump’s first presidential campaign.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan denied Trump’s bid to exclude the 2005 tape of a hot-mic conversation between Trump, who then was hosting “The Apprentice” reality TV show, and “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
“You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you've a star they let you do it,” Trump says in the tape as Bush laughs along.
“You can do anything,” he continues. “Grab them by the pussy.”
As the tape circulated widely leading up to the 2016 election, Trump dismissed his words as “locker room talk.”
Kaplan found the tape is relevant to the claim by writer E. Jean Carroll that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store, after Trump struck up friendly banter, recognizing her from her longtime advice column in "Elle" magazine.
“In this case, a jury reasonably could find, even from the Access Hollywood tape alone, that Mr. Trump admitted in the Access Hollywood tape that he in fact has had contact with women’s genitalia in the past without their consent, or that he has attempted to do so,” Kaplan wrote.
The judge will also allow two other women join Carroll in testifying that Trump sexually assaulted them.
Jessica Leeds said under deposition that Trump tried to kiss her, grabbed her breasts and put his hand up her skirt before she managed to get away during a 1979 flight from Texas to New York. When the two later encountered one another at an event where Leeds was working, Leeds testified, Trump said: “I remember you. You’re the cunt from the airplane.”
Natasha Stoynoff, a former "People" magazine writer, said in a separate deposition that Trump in 2005 pushed her against a wall at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and started kissing her, even as she twice pushed him away, stopping only when a butler entered the room. Stoynoff was there to interview Trump and his third wife, Melania, she said.
Stoynoff’s allegation is set in the same year that Melania was pregnant with Trump's youngest child and the future president was picked up on the hot "Access Hollywood" mic. The story echoes Carroll’s, which also alleges Trump first shoved her against a wall and began kissing her, before forcing himself upon her.
“The alleged acts are far more similar than different in the important aspects,” Kaplan’s 23-page ruling states.
“In each case, the alleged victim claims that Mr. Trump suddenly attacked her sexually. In the cases of Ms. Carroll and Ms. Stoynoff, he allegedly did so in a location after closing a door behind him, which gave him privacy. In all three cases, he allegedly did so without consent.”
Carroll has two lawsuits pending against Trump. Her 2019 defamation suit came after Trump denied the account she had published in her memoir “What Do We Need Men For?” In addition to calling Carroll a liar, he said, “she’s not my type.”
Last year after a New York law took effect allowing survivors a one-year look-back window to file time-barred claims, Carroll filed suit again. This case is set for trial in April, while the first case is held up in a Washington appeals court.
Kaplan has not yet ruled on combining the matters but has made clear that the same facts apply to both cases and may be tried together, depending in part on the timing of a ruling from the Washington court.
The judge will wait until trial to rule on admitting seven excerpts from Trump’s statements during his 2016 presidential campaign, wherein he says women who accused him of sexual assault were lying and unappealing physically. Kaplan again acknowledged similarities to the case at hand.
“In short, he spoke of these other women essentially in the same terms as he allegedly defamed Ms. Carroll,” Kaplan wrote.
Attorneys for Trump and for Carroll declined to comment on Friday’s ruling.
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