A federal judge rejected former President Trump’s motion to dismiss a civil sexual assault lawsuit that a woman who has accused him of rape in the 1990s filed against him, ruling that the law that authorizes her to sue is allowed under the New York State Constitution.
Journalist, author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, filed her lawsuit against Trump in November after New York’s The Adult Survivors Act (ASA), which gives individuals a one-year window to file lawsuits for old sexual misconduct allegations that have passed the statute of limitations, went into effect. She previously also filed a defamation suit against Trump for calling her a liar over her claims that he raped her and for demeaning her physical appearance.
Trump’s legal team argued that the law violates the state constitution’s due process provisions and is therefore unconstitutional. They also argued that Carroll’s defamation case should be dismissed because it does not meet the necessary standard for relief.
But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the law is constitutional, citing a ruling from the New York Court of Appeals that the test for if a claim-revival statute violates the state constitution’s due process clause should be whether the statute is “a reasonable measure to address injustice.”
He said the answer in this case is “obvious” that the ASA is a reasonable measure. He said the New York Legislature recognized an issue of the “culture of silence” and “comparatively short” periods of time in which people can bring criminal and civil actions for sexual offenses.
Kaplan said Trump’s lawyers argued that the ASA is still unconstitutional because the bill’s justification did not “sufficiently articulate the injustice” that it was trying to address, but he ruled that claim is incorrect, and the justification is clear.
“This legislation, the Adult Survivors Act, would create a one-year window for the revival of otherwise time-barred civil claims arising out of sexual offenses committed against people who were 18 or older at the time of the conduct,” the justification section of the legislative memorandum accompanying the bill states.
“Those who have had justice denied them as a result of New York’s formerly insufficient statutes of limitations should be given the opportunity to seek civil redress against their abuser or their abuser’s enablers in a court of law,” it continues.
Kaplan noted that the state legislature almost unanimously approved legislation to remedy what it considered an injustice, and Trump did not demonstrate any convincing reason why this legislation is not within the authority of the state government.
Kaplan also tossed aside Trump’s motion to dismiss Carroll’s defamation suit. Trump argued that Carroll failed to state a claim in not pleading for “special damages,” which he says is required under state law.
But Kaplan noted that Trump’s claims pertain to slander, and Carroll is suing under New York’s libel law, which has a lower standard for legal proceedings.
Carroll alleges that Trump raped her in a dressing room of a department store in Manhattan. Trump has denied the allegation and claimed he did not know her.
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Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that they are pleased but not surprised that the judge denied Trump’s motion and upheld the law’s constitutionality. She said they are looking forward to going to trial in April.
Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement that they plan to appeal immediately and “continue to advocate for our client’s constitutionally protected rights.”