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Powerline Blog
Power Line
14 Apr 2023
John Hinderaker


NextImg:A Rape Trial? Who Knew?

I learn from Andrew McCarthy that in ten days, Donald Trump will go to trial in a Manhattan courtroom on plaintiff Jean Carroll’s claim that he raped her in 1996. It is a tribute to Trump’s manifold entanglements that he can be going to trial in a rape case and hardly anyone knows it.

What is the claim?

In 2019, while Trump was president, Carroll published a memoir in which she accused him of raping her in 1996, in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman, the upscale Fifth Avenue department store in Manhattan.

The first question, obviously, is why the statute of limitation hasn’t run on an incident that allegedly happened 27 years ago. The answer is that Carroll’s initial claim sounded in defamation, after Trump denied the accusation and called Carroll a “whack job” liar. That defamation claim encountered a procedural thicket which Andy elucidates in the linked article, but which I won’t pursue here.

The more salient point is that in the meantime, New York’s legislature adopted the “Adult Survivors Act,” under which claimants were given a one-year reprieve to file sexual-assault claims that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations. Jean Carroll promptly took advantage of this law, and sued Trump for damages resulting from the alleged rape.

Trump has been deposed in the case, but probably won’t appear in court. Carroll, an Elle columnist, will be there with bells on and will testify in person. It will be a mismatch, and the jury will be comprised of Manhattanites. The burden of proof will be preponderance of the evidence (51%), not reasonable doubt. It is hard to imagine that Trump stands much of a chance.

Trump famously said that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue–maybe outside the Bergdorf Goodman store–and his fans wouldn’t desert him. That was hyperbolic, of course, but as to some of them, it might be true. But if he is found by a jury to have raped a woman in 1996–for what it is worth, my guess is that the allegation is a lie–will a majority of Republicans want to make him our presidential candidate in 2024?

We may soon find out.