E. Jean Carroll, a journalist and former Elle magazine advice columnist, says she kept silent about the alleged attack for decades out of fear that Trump would destroy her if she went public.
The New York author who claims Donald Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s testified in graphic detail about the alleged assault on the second day of the trial over her lawsuit.
E. Jean Carroll, a journalist and former Elle magazine advice columnist, says she kept silent about the alleged attack for decades out of fear that Trump would destroy her if she went public. On Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, she testified that she filed the suit to set the record straight.
"I am here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it he said it didn't happen," Carroll, 79, said under questioning by her lawyer. She added: "He shattered my reputation and I'm trying to get my life back."
The jury of six men and three women will decide if Trump, 76, is liable for sexually assaulting Carroll more than two decades ago and defaming her last year by claiming on social media that she fabricated the attack to sell a book. He has denied wrongdoing and argues the case is part of a broader politically motivated "witch hunt."
His lawyer, Joe Tacopina, signaled during his opening argument on Tuesday that he'll seek to undermine Carroll's story by presenting evidence that she is motivated by an animus toward Trump and that she waited too long to come forward with her claim if it were true.
Carroll, asked to describe how the alleged assault unfolded, testified that she and Trump ran into each other at the luxury department store while shopping. She told the jury she agreed to help him pick out a gift for a woman.
Carroll said Trump asked her to go to the sixth-floor lingerie department, where they eventually found a lacy bodysuit that he jokingly suggested she try on. She said she told him he should try it on instead, thinking he would put the bodysuit on over his pants.
Carroll told the jurors she agreed to go into a dressing room with him, thinking it was an amusing moment, "sort of like a Saturday Night Live sketch."
She said Trump then "shut the door and shoved me against the wall. He shoved me so hard my head banged. I was extremely confused and suddenly realized that what I thought was happening was not happening."
She testified that she didn't scream but instead fought to get away, even though Trump is much larger than she is.
'I Can Still Feel It'
"My whole reason for being alive in that moment was to get out of that room," she said. She said she was "trying to wriggle out from under him, but he had pulled down my tights" and assaulted her with his fingers, "which was extremely painful. He put his hand inside of me and curved his finger. As I'm sitting here today I can still feel it."
"I'm proud to say I did get out," Carroll told the court. "I got my knee up and pushed him back."
She fought back tears as she described the guilt she felt over why she went into the dressing room with Trump.
"I was ashamed," she said. "I thought it was my fault. Because I was flirting with him."
Trump on Wednesday morning blasted Carroll's lawsuit in a post on social media, calling the case a "SCAM" and deriding his accuser as "Ms. Bergdorf Goodman."
The case is Carroll v. Trump, 22-cv-10016, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).