Writer and columnist E. Jean Carroll is suing former president Donald Trump over an alleged sexual assault in the 1990s, under a New York law that lets sexual assault victims file suit years later.
Carroll’s attorneys filed the lawsuit Thursday, minutes after the Adult Survivors Act took effect. The law, which was signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in late May, gives adult sexual assault survivors up to one year to file a lawsuit, regardless of when the alleged violation happened.
Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, says Trump raped her inside a dressing room of a luxury Manhattan department store during the mid-1990s — an allegation Trump has denied.
The court filing Thursday said Carroll filed the lawsuit to “obtain redress for her injuries and to demonstrate that even a man as powerful as Trump can be held accountable under the law.”
She is suing Trump for battery and defamation and seeking compensatory and punitive damages, saying that the alleged sexual assault caused “significant pain and suffering, lasting psychological harms, loss of dignity and invasion of her privacy.”
The lawsuit was expected. Carroll said in court records filed in September, as part of her ongoing, separate defamation case against Trump, that she would file a lawsuit against the former president under the Adult Survivors Act “as soon as that statute authorizes us to do so.”
Carroll first recounted the alleged assault in a book in 2019. She was not able to press charges at the time because the statute of limitations had passed.
Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by a slew of other women, responded to the allegations by saying Carroll was “totally lying” and that the journalist was “not my type.” Carroll then sued Trump for defamation.
In the court documents filed Thursday, Carroll claims Trump “forced her up against a dressing room wall, pinned her in place with his shoulder, and raped her.” The suit notes that, out of fear, Carroll had kept quiet about the incident for more than 20 years, before deciding it was time to speak out after the #MeToo movement galvanized survivors of sexual assault around the world to share their stories.
In a statement on the new lawsuit, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said the writer “intends to hold Donald Trump accountable not only for defaming her, but also for sexually assaulting her, which he did years ago in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman.”
“Thanksgiving Day was the very first day Ms. Carroll could file under New York law so our complaint was filed with the court shortly after midnight.”
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, dismissed the claims Thursday.
“While I respect and admire individuals that come forward, this case is unfortunately an abuse of the purpose of this Act which creates a terrible precedent and runs the risk of delegitimizing the credibility of actual victims,” Habba told the Associated Press.
Representatives for Carroll have sought to merge the defamation suit with Thursday’s new lawsuit under the Adult Survivors Act, though Trump’s legal team has argued the move would be prejudicial.
The Adult Survivors Act is modeled on New York’s Child Victims Act, which was signed in 2019 and offered a similar opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to file suits against their alleged abusers.
An avalanche of lawsuits are expected to be filed under the new law, which supporters say offers a chance for survivors to hold their attackers accountable — even if a significant period of time has lapsed since the alleged incident,
Shayna Jacobs contributed to this report.