E. Jean Carroll, under pointed questioning from Trump lawyer: ‘He raped me whether I screamed or not’
NEW YORK — E. Jean Carroll dramatically rebuffed a lawyer for Donald Trump who questioned her behavior and memory as he cross-examined her on Thursday about her allegation that the former president raped her in the 1990s.
“Here’s the thing: I was too much in a panic to scream,” Carroll said when Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, challenged her assertion that she didn’t yell for help during the alleged assault in a department store dressing room.
“I’m telling you: He raped me whether I screamed or not,” Carroll said, raising her voice.
Carroll, a magazine writer, testified for a second day in her civil lawsuit against the former president. She is suing him for battery and defamation. He has said the alleged incident “never happened.”
The questioning got off to a terse start as Tacopina wished Carroll “good morning” twice before she would reply to him. “There ya go,” he said when she finally responded.
Carroll has said that she believes the alleged attack at Bergdorf Goodman occurred in the evening on a day between the fall of 1995 and the spring of 1996, and under questioning from her own lawyer on Wednesday, she added that she believes it took place on a Thursday. A former Bergdorf employee testified that Thursdays were the only nights of the week the luxury department store stayed open late.
But Carroll has repeatedly said she can’t recall exactly what date it happened.
On Thursday, Tacopina questioned why Carroll said only now that it was a Thursday and why neither she nor two friends she says she told contemporaneously can recall the date.
“I wish to heaven we could give you a date,” Carroll said. “I wish we could give you a date.”
Carroll testified that she always had a hunch the alleged attack occurred on a Thursday, but didn’t identify the day of the week in a book she wrote or in interviews because she wasn’t absolutely sure and “I tried to stick to the facts.”
Tacopina also questioned Carroll about a 2017 email referencing Trump between her and her friend Carol Martin, in which Martin wrote: “As soon as we are both well enuf to scheme, we must do our patriotic duty again …” Carroll responded: “TOTALLY!!! I have something special for you when we meet.”
When Carroll testified, as she had also done Wednesday, that she couldn’t recall what the email meant, Tacopina asked how she could remember details from the alleged rape from at least 27 years ago but couldn’t recall anything about a six-year-old email.
“Those are facts that I could never forget,” Carroll said of the alleged attack. “This is an email among probably hundreds of emails between Carol and I that I have no recollection of.”
Tacopina also pressed Carroll on why she went public with her story when she did, in 2019. Though Tacopina suggested she was using the claim to try to attract a book publisher, Carroll disputed that, saying she was instead prompted by revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation in The New York Times in 2017.
“When that happened, across the country women began telling their stories, and I was flummoxed [and thought], wait a minute, can we actually speak up and not be pummeled?” Carroll testified. “I thought, well this may be a way to change the culture of sexual violence. The light dawned. I thought, we can actually change things if we all tell our stories. And I thought by god, this may be the time.”
She continued: “It caused me to realize that staying silent does not work. It doesn’t work. If women speak up, we have a chance of limiting the harm that happens.”
Tacopina challenged Carroll on specific details of her account of the alleged rape.
He pressed her on her recollection that she didn’t see anyone in the department store as she and Trump rode the escalators to the sixth floor. “I was not looking for other people,” she said. “I was in a very engaging conversation with Donald Trump.”
He questioned why, as she has testified, she would have suggested Trump, a relatively tall and heavyset man, try on a skimpy women’s lace bodysuit they found on a counter in the lingerie department. “It just struck me as very funny,” she said. “If a man tells me to put on some lingerie, my natural instinct is to tell him to go put on the lingerie.”
Tacopina asked how she could have fought back against Trump while wearing 4-inch-heels, as she has said. “I can dance backwards and forwards in 4-inch-heels,” she replied.
And, in perhaps the most heated moment of the day, Tacopina questioned why she wouldn’t have screamed if she were being sexually assaulted.
“I’m not a screamer. You can’t beat up on me for not screaming,” she replied, growing agitated. “I’m not beating up on you. I’m asking you questions,” Tacopina said.
“Women don’t come forward. One of the reasons they don’t come forward is because they’re always asked, why didn’t you scream?” Carroll told the courtroom. Women are told, she said, “You better have a good excuse if you didn’t scream.”
At that point, Carroll raised her voice. “I’m telling you: He raped me whether I screamed or not,” she exclaimed.
“Do you need a minute, Ms. Carroll?” Tacopina asked.
“No,” she replied. “Go right on. I don’t need an excuse for not screaming.”
The trial will not meet on Friday. Carroll is expected to continue her testimony on Monday.
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