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Trump loses mistrial bid in midst of civil rape trial

On whether she called the police after E. Jean Carroll says Donald Trump raped her: "Women like me were taught and trained to keep our chins up and to not complain.”

MANHATTAN (CN) — The second week of the civil rape trial against Donald Trump began Monday with the presiding judge dashing Trump’s hopes of a midtrial dismissal. 

Trump filed the motion in the hours before trial resumed with writer E. Jean Carroll being cross-examined about her testimony that Trump raped her in 1996 in the fitting room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan. 

The ex-president’s attorneys accused U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of mischaracterizing evidence and bolstering Carroll’s testimony, among other perceived slights to the defense team, including a mention that social media comments by Trump and his son Eric could be subject to “some relevant United States statutes.” 

“We respectfully submit this letter, on behalf of Defendant Donald J. trump, to request that the court grant a mistrial based on pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings by the court; or in the alternative, (1) correct the record for each and every instance in which the court has mischaracterized the facts of this case to the jury and (2) allow defendant’s counsel to have greater latitude to cross-examine plaintiff and her witnesses,” attorney Joseph Tacopina wrote in the 18-page motion. 

Kaplan denied the motion from the bench before the jury came in. 

Carroll's third day on the witness stand Monday afternoon was her last. Last week jurors heard her describe how a friendly, flirtatious encounter — Trump asked Carroll, who at the time penned a popular advice column for Elle magazine — turned into a violent rape. 

She shot back at Trump's lawyer, Tacopina, as he pressed her on why she didn’t scream as Trump allegedly forced his fingers, then his penis, inside her. It’s the type of question, Carroll said, that prevents women from coming forward.

During recross, Tacopina asked Carroll if she understood that he was "not judging" the appropriate response to being raped. Judge Kaplan sustained an objection to the question.

"Look, you understand that that's not an appropriate question," Kaplan said, emphasizing the word "you" and reminding the attorney he can make arguments during closings.

Kaplan earlier sustained objections to stop Tacopina from asking if it's possible there was "just a disagreement" between Carroll and Trump about what happened, and if the alleged rape "could somehow be viewed as consensual," after Carroll repeated that she had expected Trump to say she had consented to having sex with him — rather than denying the two had ever met.

The writer says she initially blamed herself for the attack, and thought others would do the same if she spoke out. 

“People say, ‘Oh, you’re so brave, you're so brave,’ but really they're thinking, 'I don’t know, she should have been smarter; or I don’t know, she should have screamed,” Carroll had testified last week. “Maybe that dress she was wearing. Maybe she flirted too much.'”

In that same culture surrounding sexual violence, the 79-year-old Carroll explained Monday, it was unheard of that she would go to the police. 

“Mr. Tacopina, I was born in 1943. I am a member of the Silent Generation. Women like me were taught and trained to keep our chins up and to not complain,” Carroll said. “The fact that I never went to the police is not surprising for someone my age.” 

Though the jury heard Carroll's response, Tacopina, of the firm Tacopina Seigel & DeOreo, succeeded in having it stricken from the record. Carroll said that while she never reported sexual assault by Trump or anyone else, there was another instance where she did call the police: Pranksters on Halloween had knocked over the mailbox at an old farm house that belonged to Carroll's friend, where Carroll was staying at the time.

Tacopina sought to cast doubt on Carroll's account by citing a podcast interview in which the writer said her life has been "fabulous." He noted as well that Carroll has seen an outpouring of support since filing suit against Trump. Carroll agreed that the lawsuit has given her a semblance of control over her life but also testified that Trump supporters have sent her hate mail including death threats.

"You are going to get hurt very badly," one stranger warned Carroll in an email that was shown in court. "Better end the bullshit quickly, bitch."

Carroll said she decided finally to come forward after an investigation by The New York Times blew open dozens of rape and harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein. She detailed the alleged assault in 2019 in her book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.” 

Trump’s denial from the White House lawn prompted Carroll’s 2019 defamation lawsuit that’s still pending in front of Judge Kaplan, tied up for months in procedural issues since Trump was president at the time he said Carroll was “not my type” and accused her of making up the story to sell books. 

Carroll filed the battery claim in November 2022, minutes after New York enacted the Adult Survivors Act, opening a one-year window for survivors to file claims ordinarily barred by the statute of limitations. The complaint also also includes a defamation count based on Trump’s repeated denial after he left office. 

In a passage of her book Carroll compares Les Moonves to an “octopus,” describing the former CBS chairman and chief executive cornering and groping her in an elevator. Moonves, accused by more than a dozen women of misconduct that escalated to sexual assault, resigned in 2018 but has denied all allegations. 

Tacopina asked Carroll how Moonves’ categorical denial was different from Trump’s. 

“He simply denied it. He didn’t call me any names, he didn’t say I was an operative of the Democratic Party, he didn’t say that I was running a scam,” Carroll testified. “He didn’t grind my face into the mud like Donald Trump did.” 

Follow @NinaPullano
Categories / Civil Rights, Entertainment, Media, Trials

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