Trump accuser says many in her generation didn’t report rape
May 1, 2023, 5:51 AM | Updated: 3:36 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — A magazine columnist who says Donald Trump raped her in a department store’s dressing room two decades before he became president acknowledged Monday that she never followed her own advice to readers that they report sexual attacks to police.
E. Jean Carroll told a federal civil court jury that the reason was generational.
The 79-year-old said that as “a member of the Silent Generation,” she was conditioned to keep her chin up and not to complain.
“The fact that I never went to the police is not surprising for somebody my age,” she testified as Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina cross-examined Carroll about why she never went to authorities about the alleged rape, which Trump denies. Carroll said she had called police only once in her life, when she feared the mailbox at a home where she was staying was going to be damaged on Halloween.
“You would call police if a mailbox was attacked,” Tacopina asked, “but not if you yourself were attacked?”
Carroll replied that at the time, she was ashamed of what she alleges happened. She later added that she was mindful of Trump’s power and connections in New York and “didn’t think police would take me seriously.”
Research has repeatedly found that rapes and sexual assaults are among the types of violent crime least likely to be reported to police. An annual U.S. crime victimization survey found that less than 23% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported in 2021 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Carroll on Monday wrapped up three days of testimony in the trial stemming from her lawsuit against Trump. The trial is due to continue Tuesday with other witnesses on her behalf. Trump, who traveled to Scotland on Monday to open a new golf course at his resort near Aberdeen, Scotland, has not attended the trial. Jurors are expected to see parts of a recording of him answering questions under oath last fall.
Carroll has said the then-real estate magnate raped her in the spring of 1996 at the tony Bergdorf Goodman store after they went into a dressing room together in an encounter that she said was fun and flirtatious until Trump became violent. She said she eventually kneed him and fled.
Trump, 76, says that he was never at the store with Carroll and never knew her beyond a fleeting moment when a 1987 picture was taken of them in a group setting.
Shortly before Carroll first took the stand last week, Trump called the rape accusation “a fraudulent & false story” on his social media platform.
Seeking to cast Carroll’s allegation as fiction, Tacopina on Monday brought up a 2012 episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in which a male character briefly speaks about consensually acting out a sexual fantasy that involves bursting in on a woman trying on lingerie in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. Jurors saw an email in which someone mentioned the episode to Carroll after she went public with her claim in 2019.
Carroll testified that she has never seen the episode, didn’t know about it before receiving the email and didn’t make up her accusation off TV. She said she wasn’t entirely surprised at the points of similarity.
“The ‘Law & Order’ writers are very good about keying into the psyches of their viewers,” said Carroll, asserting that many people have misplaced fantasies about rape.
Her renewed testimony came shortly after Tacopina asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is overseeing the civil proceedings, to declare a mistrial because of rulings he made that Tacopina said favored Carroll. The judge rejected the request.
Carroll filed suit against Trump in November, under a New York state law that temporarily allows sexual assault victims to sue over alleged attacks that happened even decades ago.
Amid a flurry of public denials and insults from Trump that prompted Carroll to add a defamation claim to the lawsuit, Trump has insisted that Carroll was motivated by political reasons and a desire to sell copies of her 2019 memoir.
Carroll has testified that she spoke out because of the #MeToo movement, which gained prominence in 2017.
Carroll wrote an advice column for Elle magazine for nearly three decades, and Tacopina confronted her Monday with instances in which she advised contacting law enforcement authorities after people wrote in about sexual assaults and threats from partners and exes.
“I always — in most cases — advised my readers to go to the police,” Carroll acknowledged.
Tacopina also pointed out that although Carroll’s memoir described sexual assaults by multiple men over the course of her life, Trump was the only one she sued. And, although Trump has insisted he had no sexual encounter — indeed, “no anything” — with Carroll, his attorney asked her whether what allegedly happened could “somehow be viewed as consensual.”
“It was not consensual,” she said emphatically.
The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.