Court Battles

Trump seeks to dismiss E. Jean Carroll sexual assault lawsuit, says new law violates NY Constitution

Former President Trump asked a federal judge on Wednesday to dismiss a battery and defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s.

E. Jean Carroll had previously filed a defamation lawsuit against the former president for statements he made about the alleged incident. On Thanksgiving, she filed a new suit that also added a battery charge in response to a newly enacted New York state law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for sexual offenses.

Trump’s attorneys in a Wednesday filing argued the law, titled The Adult Survivors Act, is invalid under the New York Constitution’s due process protections.

They further asserted that Carroll’s claims of defamation do not meet the legal standard for relief, arguing the judge should dismiss the case in its entirety.

Carroll, a longtime columnist for Elle magazine, alleges the former president sexually assaulted her at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump vehemently denies the assault took place and claims he didn’t know her.

Carroll originally sued Trump for allegedly defaming her by casting doubt on her credibility and demeaning her appearance, including during a 2019 interview with The Hill in which Trump said Carroll was “totally lying” and “not my type.”

The new lawsuit adds an additional allegation of defamation based on a statement Trump issued this October, and it notably also takes aim at the newly enacted state law.

“E. Jean Carroll’s new complaint is nothing more than a tired repeat of her first action,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement. “She seeks to exploit the Adult Survivors Act, which was designed with the admirable goal of vindicating the rights of those who have suffered sexual abuse. At the end of the day, the President told the truth when he denied her claims, and we will continue to fight to protect his First Amendment rights.”

Habba in Wednesday’s filing argued that The Adult Survivors Act is a “fundamentally flawed law,” citing court precedent that a New York law reviving previously barred claims must be a reasonable response to remedy an injustice to comply with the constitutional clause.

Trump’s team argued the new law, which provides individuals with a one-year window to bring previously barred sexual offense claims, “does not remedy any specific, identifiable injustice, but merely provides a second bite at the apple for claims that have been long since waived.”

The state previously enacted a separate law that provided a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to bring barred claims. 

That law was similarly challenged under the state Constitution’s due process clause, but a judge ultimately upheld the statute. Trump’s team argued the earlier law is different because it was narrowly-tailored to protect an especially vulnerable population.

Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, expressed optimism that Trump’s dismissal will fail in a statement.

“We look forward to starting trial on April 17, 2023,” Kaplan said. “Based on the discussion during yesterday morning’s court conference, we expect that Judge Kaplan will quickly reject Donald Trump’s latest attempt to delay Ms. Carroll’s day in court.”

Tags Donald Trump E. Jean Carroll Lawsuit New York sexual assault

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