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E. Jean Carroll sues Trump for battery and defamation as lookback window for adult sex abuse survivors’ suits opens in New York

<i>Alec Tabak/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</i><br/>Ex-magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll
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Alec Tabak/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
Ex-magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll

By Kara Scannell, CNN

Ex-magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll sued former President Donald Trump for battery and defamation under a new New York law that allows adults alleging sexual assault to bring claims years after the attack.

Carroll filed the lawsuit Thursday, the first day that civil lawsuits can be brought under the new law, the Adult Survivors Act, which gives adults a one-year window to file a claim.

The lawsuit is the second Carroll has brought against Trump, but the first to seek to hold him accountable for battery for allegedly raping Carroll in the dressing room of a New York department store in the mid-1990s. The lawsuit also alleges a new defamation claim based on statements Trump made last month.

Carroll is asking a judge to order Trump to retract his defamatory statements and award compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

“Trump’s underlying sexual assault severely injured Carroll, causing significant pain and suffering, lasting psychological harms, loss of dignity, and invasion of her privacy. His recent defamatory statement has only added to the harm that Carroll had already suffered,” the lawsuit alleges.

At a court hearing Tuesday for the earlier lawsuit, Trump attorney Alina Habba told Judge Lewis Kaplan she had not yet been retained to represent Trump in the Adult Survivors Act lawsuit.

Kaplan noted that Trump has known this lawsuit was “coming for months and he would be well advised to decide who is representing him in it.”

In 2019, Carroll sued Trump for defamation after he denied her sexual assault allegation, said he never met Carroll, that she wasn’t his type, and that she made up the story to boost sales of her new book.

In Thursday’s lawsuit Carroll re-upped those previous statements and added a new one, from October 2022, when Trump said similar things about her as he was set to sit for a deposition related to the 2019 lawsuit.

“I don’t know this woman, have no idea who she is, other than it seems she got a picture of me many years ago, with her husband, shaking my hand on a reception line at a celebrity charity event. She completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City Department Store and, within minutes, ‘swooned’ her,” Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social.

“It is a Hoax and a lie, just like all the other Hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years. And, while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!” the post said.

Habba responding to the filing Thursday, saying, “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 running the risk of delegitimizing credibility of actual victims.”

Carroll’s 2019 defamation lawsuit against Trump has been hanging in the balance. Trump’s attorneys challenged the lawsuit saying the Justice Department should be substituted as the defendants since Trump, as president, was answering reporters’ questions about Carroll’s allegations. The Justice Department agreed.

Kaplan ruled in favor of Carroll, but Trump and the Justice Department appealed. A federal appeals court in New York ruled that Trump was a federal employee at the time but asked a Washington, DC, appeals court to determine whether the statements fell within the scope of his employment.

The DC appeals court has expedited the case and could decide early next year. If the court rules against Carroll, the case will likely be dismissed because the federal government cannot be sued for defamation.

If the 2019 case is dismissed, the defamation claims from 2022 would not be impacted since Trump was not a federal employee last month when he made the new statements.

Carroll’s lawyers previously asked Kaplan to combine the 2019 and 2022 action into one trial early next year. The judge said he would weigh in next week.

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