Columnist sues Trump for calling her sex assault claim a lie

NEW YORK (AP) — An advice columnist who says President Donald Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s sued him Monday for calling her a liar he had never even met.

E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit, filed Monday in New York, says Trump “smeared her integrity, honesty and dignity — all in the national press” when he responded to her allegations, first broached in New York magazine this past June as Carroll prepared to release a book.

“Nobody is entitled to conceal acts of sexual assault behind a wall of defamatory falsehoods and deflections,” Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan wrote in the suit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a retraction of Trump’s statements.

A message requesting comment was sent to a law firm that has represented Trump in other cases.

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, is among over a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct or sexual assault, predating his presidency.

She isn’t the only one to sue over his denials. Another such case, filed by Summer Zervos — a onetime contestant on his former reality show, “The Apprentice” — is ongoing in the same Manhattan courthouse where Carroll has filed her claim.

In Zervos’ case, Trump’s lawyers have said his statements weren’t defamatory, and they have tried unsuccessfully so far to get the suit dismissed or at least delayed until he is no longer in office.

Carroll says she bumped into the then-real estate developer in the high-end store Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996, and he asked her to help him pick out a gift for “a girl” and eventually suggested lingerie. He suggested Carroll try on a see-through bodysuit, she said, and after a joking exchange, they went into a dressing room.

She says Trump then pushed her against a wall, pulled down her tights and raped her as she struggled. Carroll said she eventually broke free and fled.

Carroll said there were no attendants in the dressing room area. She didn’t file a police report but said she did tell two journalist friends. Both have corroborated that they were told.

Trump said in June that Carroll was “totally lying,” the accusation was “fake news” and she was “not my type.”

“No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around??” he said in one of various statements and interviews. “People should pay dearly for such false accusations.”

He also said he had never met her, though a 1987 photo shows him and Carroll in a photo with their spouses at the time.

“Give me a break,” Trump said of the photo, noting it shows his back to the camera.

Carroll says she stayed mum for decades because she feared legal retribution from Trump and reputational damage, among other reasons. But ultimately, she said, she developed qualms about giving advice to readers without disclosing her own accounts of sexual assault.

Carroll’s book, which also recounts other assaults Carroll says she experienced during her life, came out in July.

The suit says Trump harmed Carroll’s reputation and career. Many readers have shied from writing to a woman the president has called a liar, the suit says.