The tape of Donald Trump boasting about sexual aggression towards women that detonated late in the 2016 election campaign but did not prevent him from winning the presidency will be permitted at a forthcoming civil trial in New York.
A federal judge ruled on Friday that the columnist E Jean Carroll can use the 2005 remarks by Trump, caught on tape in conversation with an Access Hollywood TV show personality, in support of her lawsuit accusing Trump of raping her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s.
Carroll sued Trump for defamation after he denied the rape ever happened or that he even knew the former longtime Elle magazine columnist, after she first described in a 2019 book her encounter with Trump in late 1995 or early 1996.
In the leaked tape, the former president boasts graphically while talking to Billy Bush, then with Access Hollywood, about how celebrities such as himself can grope women without waiting for consent.
“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,” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote.
A trial is scheduled for next month, but the judge has not yet specified whether it will include Carroll’s defamation claims or will only pertain to rape accusations she formally made in November after New York state temporarily changed laws to let adult rape victims sue their abusers, even if attacks occurred decades ago.
Carroll maintains that a friendly chance encounter between herself and Trump at an upscale Manhattan department store turned violent when both of them entered a dressing room to supposedly try on lingerie that Trump wanted to purchase for a friend, but instead she alleges he raped her there.
The judge also said he will allow jurors to hear testimony from two other women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
In an October deposition for the upcoming trial, Trump was dismissive of Carroll’s claims, saying: “Physically she’s not my type,” though he misidentified her as an ex-wife of his when he was shown a photograph.
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who is unrelated to the judge, confronted the former president and 2024 Republican candidate for the White House with claims that two dozen other women have made against him, asking if any are true.
“I would say. I mean, I don’t see any. I mean, you haven’t shown me anything,” Trump responded, according to the transcript.
In the Access Hollywood tape, Trump said that sometimes when he sees beautiful women: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” And he added that: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … grab them by the pussy.”
He later offered a public apology, saying the comments were “locker room banter”.
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