MANHATTAN (CN) — As her own lawyer asked what she did after Donald Trump raped her, E. Jean Carroll lost her composure.
“You ask me what I did in that moment. I always think back to why I walked in there to get myself in that situation,” Carroll said, choking up after a long pause on the witness stand, about one hour into her testimony. “But I’m proud to say I did get out. I got my knee up. I got my knee up and pushed him back.”
Carroll, a writer and former Elle magazine advice columnist, says Trump raped her in a fitting room of the department store Bergdorf Goodman one night in 1996. She told jurors that the two recognized each other in the store's famous revolving doors, and what was supposed to be a playful shopping trip unfolded, with Trump asking Carroll's advice picking out a gift.
“I was delighted,” Carroll said. “It was such a funny New York scene. I’m a born advice columnist, I love to give advice, and here was Donald Trump asking me for advice about buying a present.”
She described herself as swept up in what she considered an amusing moment with a “well-known raconteur, man about town.”
Carroll was 52 at the time and says Trump joked about her age, "so old." But when he held up a bodysuit to her in the lingerie department and asked her to try it on, she says he walked back the insult by remarking on her physique. "You're in shape," he said allegedly. Tossing the skimpy item back to Trump, she joked with him it would go better with his eyes.
“He said, ‘Let’s try this on,’ and he motioned toward the dressing room,” Carroll said.
Then in the fitting room, she continued, Trump slammed the door and pushed her against the wall. Hoping that her laughter would make clear that she didn’t intend to get intimate, Carroll said she tried to keep the mood cordial.
“This is going to sound odd: I didn’t want to make a scene. I know that sounds strange. I didn’t want to make him angry at me. I didn’t want to stop what started out as something light and fun and comedic and a great story to tell people I am having dinner with,” Carroll said. “And it suddenly turned absolutely dark.”
Carroll said Trump pressed his mouth to hers and held her against the wall with one hand as he pulled down her tights. He penetrated her with his fingers, she said, which was “extremely painful.”
“As I’m sitting here today, I can still feel it,” Carroll testified. “Then he inserted his penis.”
After some struggle Carroll was able to get away, she said. That night she called a friend, writer Lisa Birnbach, and told her what happened. But she had not yet processed the incident.
“Adrenaline was flowing through my body, so it was just very hard for me to comprehend if it was what it was,” Carroll said. Then she added, softly, “Of course I probably had a good idea of what it was, so I had to tell Lisa.”
“He raped you, E. Jean, you should go to the police,” Carroll recalled Birnbach telling her. There was no chance of that happening.
“I was ashamed, I thought it was my fault,” Carroll said. “I was flirting with him, laughing.”
Thinking about the future of her daily national television show based on her advice column, Carroll feared that reporting the incident could prompt Trump’s retaliation and get her fired. The show was produced by Roger Ailes, a friend of Trump’s.