Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll revealed details of the moment Donald Trump allegedly raped her in a dressing room in the 1990s, saying in a pretrial deposition it initially left her so stunned she didn't know what to say.
"I was so shocked that I didn't speak. What I did was I laughed," Carroll, 79, said, describing how her disbelief left her at a loss for words.
Carroll first publicly accused Trump in 2019, alleging in her book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, that he'd raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1995 or 1996. The allegations first became public when an excerpt of the book was published on the Cut.
Trump not only denied Carroll's allegations but claimed he had "never met that person in my life," and suggested she was lying to boost sales of her book. He claimed she was also lying about being sexually assaulted by Les Moonves, the disgraced former CEO of CBS who was accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, and insinuated she wasn't attractive enough for the incident to have occurred, saying in an interview with the Hill "she’s not my type."
Carroll is suing Trump for defamation in a federal court in Manhattan, arguing he "smeared her integrity, honesty, and dignity" in his denial of the allegations, the lawsuit states. She filed an additional lawsuit in November, suing Trump for the alleged assault under New York's Adult Survivors Act.
She was deposed by Trump's attorney Alina Habba in October, and her legal team released a portion of the transcript on Tuesday. Trump was also deposed in October, but that transcript has not been made public.
In her deposition, Carroll said she ran into Trump that day when she was leaving the Manhattan department store and he was walking in. He recognized her, she said, and asked for her help in picking out a gift for an unnamed woman.
"He said, 'Hey, you're that advice lady,'" Carroll said, "And then he said, 'Come help me buy a present.'"
She said she was "delighted" to help Trump, who she was aware of as a "real estate tycoon" and prominent figure in the "New York scene," and saw the task as her "duty" as an advice columnist.
The two perused handbags and hats at Carroll's suggestion, she said, but Trump was not interested in them. He then asked her age, she said, and she told him she was 52.
"He said, 'You're so old,'" she recalled Trump, then 49 or 50, replying. She could not remember how she responded, "but I hope it was something saucy," she said.
Then, Trump allegedly suggested they look at the lingerie section. The two took the escalator up several flights to get there and found the floor empty of any people besides themselves.
Trump picked up a lace bodysuit, Carroll said, and told her to try it on. "'You put it on, it's your color,'" she said she responded, initially thinking they were just joking around.
"He took my arm and he said, 'Let's go put this on,' and I started laughing because I'm thinking to myself, This is hilarious, I'm going to make him put it on over his pants," Carroll said. "That's my plan. And then after I make him put it on over his pants I'm going to have a story that I can tell my friends at dinner."
Trump gestured for her to step into the dressing room, she said, and then slammed the door closed, "lunged" at her, and "immediately pushed me up against the wall so hard that I banged my head."
Carroll was so shocked she could only laugh, a reaction she explained was her "trying to recapture the camaraderie we had" and "trying to reduce any eroticism" from the interaction.
It was at this point that the seriousness of the situation dawned on Carroll, she said, realizing she was being attacked by a man she estimated was 100 pounds heavier than her. Asked about Trump's demeanor at that moment, Carroll described it simply as "intent."
"Now I understood that ... this is a battle, and he pulled down my tights," Carroll said, saying she then "felt his fingers rummaging around my vagina."
"At one point I remember saying, This is Donald Trump, what the heck is going on?" she said. "And then I felt his penis inside of me."
The whole incident was "very brief," Carroll said, as she was quickly able to push him off of her and escape.
It was more than 20 years after the alleged incident that Carroll first spoke publicly about it, a choice she said came from knowing how sexual assault victims are often treated.
"Women who have been raped are looked at in this society as less, are looked at as spoiled goods, are looked at as rather dumb to let themselves get attacked," she said. "I mean, even you have to say, 'Did you scream?'"
Since that day, Carroll said she has not had sex, which she said might be due to "what happened at Bergdorf's." It felt as if "the light had gone out" of her, she said.
"In New York, [if] there's a taxi and if the light is on it means it's available, wants to meet people," she said. "I didn't have that. My light was gone."
Trump's smears of her have "totally affected" her life, she said. Months after making her allegations, she lost her job at Elle magazine, where she'd written a monthly column for 26 years. The magazine claimed it was a "business decision and had nothing to do with politics," but offered no further explanation.
"I'm looked at as a woman who's untrustworthy, looked at now as a woman who can't be believed," Carroll said in her deposition. "I'm looked at as a woman who was stupid and dumb enough to have happen to her what happened to her."