Judge rejects as 'absurd' Trump bid to dismiss rape accuser's lawsuit

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NEW YORK, Jan 13 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday rejected as “absurd” former President Donald Trump’s effort to dismiss writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit accusing him of defamation and battery after he denied raping her in the mid-1990s.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said there was no merit to Trump’s argument that Carroll’s battery claim under New York’s Adult Survivors Act must be dismissed because the law denied him due process under the state’s constitution.

The judge also said state law did not require Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, to prove that she suffered an economic loss from Trump’s comments, as Trump had argued.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said “we are disappointed with the court’s decision” and planned an immediate appeal.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said “we are pleased though not surprised” at the decision.

The lawsuit is one of two in which Carroll accuses Trump of defamation when he denied raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996.

Carroll first sued Trump after he denied the accusation in June 2019, telling a reporter at the White House that he did not know Carroll, that “she’s not my type,” and that she concocted the claim to sell her new memoir.

The second lawsuit arose from an October 2022 social media post where Trump called the rape claim a “hoax,” “lie,” “con job” and “complete scam,” and said “this can only happen to ‘Trump’!”

That lawsuit included the battery claim under the Adult Survivors Act, which starting last Nov. 24 gave adults a one-year window to sue their alleged attackers even if statutes of limitations have expired.

‘DEMONSTRABLY INCORRECT’

Judge Kaplan said Trump was “demonstrably incorrect” to claim that the law was unconstitutional because lawmakers did not sufficiently explain why it was needed.

The judge said lawmakers passed the law to help sexual abuse victims who might have suppressed memories of their attacks, or like Carroll were deterred from suing out of fear.

“To suggest that the ASA violates the state due process clause because the legislature supposedly did not describe that injustice to the defendant’s entire satisfaction in a particular paragraph of a particular type of legislative document – itself a dubious premise – is absurd,” Judge Kaplan wrote.

Trump is seeking another White House term in 2024.

He and Carroll are awaiting a decision from a Washington, D.C., appeals court on whether, under local law, Trump should be immune from Carroll’s first lawsuit over his June 2019 comments.

That lawsuit would likely be dismissed if the court decided that Trump spoke within his role as president, and continue if Trump spoke in his personal capacity as Carroll argued.

Any decision would have no effect on Carroll’s second defamation lawsuit. A trial in the first lawsuit is scheduled for April 10.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Howard Goller

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