Trump will not mount a defence case in rape trial, his lawyers say

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New York: Donald Trump will not present a defence case in the rape and defamation trial against him by E Jean Carroll, despite insisting he never sexually assaulted the New York writer.

Days after Carroll testified in graphic detail how the former president allegedly raped her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s, Trump’s legal team informed the court that they would not be calling the one expert witness who was meant to give evidence on his behalf: psychiatrist Edgar Nace.

E Jean Carroll arrives at court in New York for Wednesday’s hearing.Credit: AP

Lawyer Joe Tacopina said Nace would no longer be testifying due to “health issues”. This means that unless Trump himself decides to attend – which his lawyers had previously indicated was unlikely – the jury could end up only hearing Carroll’s side before the civil trial wraps up within days.

The former president, who is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to contest for the White House again next year, travelled to Scotland and Ireland this week to visit his golf course resorts. Asked in Ireland on Wednesday (local time) why he was not in Manhattan to attend the trial, Trump replied: “Because we’ve had a longstanding agreement to come here.”

“The people of Ireland have been great and we’ve had tremendous success – and I hear we’re doing very well in New York,” he added.

Carroll is a journalist and author who wrote the long-running “Ask E. Jean” advice column for Elle magazine between 1993 and 2019. She has accused Trump of raping her in the lingerie dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s – something that the former president insists never happened.

Donald Trump at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland this week. Credit: AP

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn’t happen,” she told the federal court in Manhattan during her testimony. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”

As the case entered its sixth trial day on Wednesday, the jury heard from Dr Leslie Lebowitz, a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist who has spent about 20 hours interviewing Carroll.

She testified that Carroll, now aged 79, has suffered from years of painful memories, low self-esteem and an inability to be intimate with others.

“Perhaps most prominently,” Lebowitz said, “she manifests very notable avoidance symptoms, which have curtailed her romantic and intimate life and caused profound loss.”

The psychologist also told the court that it was common for rape victims to fall silent and blame themselves – a rebuke of Tacopina’s earlier attempt to undercut Carroll’s credibility by questioning why she didn’t scream out for help during the alleged rape, and why she never went to police.

“Sure some people scream, it’s a good idea,” Lebowitz said. But she added that, based on her 40 years of clinical practice, “it’s one of the least likely things to actually occur.”

Carroll’s lawsuit claims Trump is liable for battery for the alleged rape, as well as for defamation after he called her a liar when she went public with her story decades later. Several witnesses have also appeared to boost her case, including other women who say they were also sexually assaulted by the former president.

Among them is Jessica Leeds, who told the jury this week that Trump molested her with what seemed like “40 zillion hands” on an airline flight in the late 1970s.

The former saleswoman and stockbroker, now aged 81, also testified that when she ran into Trump at a charity gala in the early 1980s, he allegedly told her: “I remember you. You’re that c— from the airplane.”

Another woman, Natasha Stoynoff, is expected to give evidence about how she was allegedly assaulted by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 2005, where she was on assignment to write a story for People magazine about his wedding anniversary.

One of Carroll’s lawyers, Shawn Crowley, told the jury in her opening statement: “Mr. Trump led Ms Stoynoff to an empty room, claiming that he wanted to show her something there.”

“As soon as they got inside, Trump closed the door, grabbed Ms Stoynoff’s shoulders, pushed her against the wall and started kissing her.”

Trump has denied all the allegations against him, and in relation to Carroll, has insisted he did not know her and that she was not his type.

But the civil trial – which comes merely weeks after his historic indictment over hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels – could nonetheless have implications for his re-election campaign, which is peppered with legal dramas.

Other investigations involving the former president include a Department of Justice probe into the events of the January 6 Capitol attack, a Georgia-based investigation into election interference in that state and another Justice Department investigation into the handling of classified documents.

The trial continues.

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