“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen. He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back,” E. Jean Carroll testified Tuesday in a New York courtroom.
Carroll is suing Trump for battery and defamation stemming from an incident some 27 years ago. When she was an advice columnist in her 50s, Carroll says, Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store dressing room. Trump denies her claim; his attorneys say she is motivated by money and politics.
And there’s no question that politics are at play here. New York changed its statute of limitation law last year — and that’s the only reason this case is in a courtroom.
Over the years, a number of women have accused Trump of sexually assaulting them. Many of these women were highly credible.
Carroll, not so much. She’s not even sure when the alleged incident occurred. Was it 1995 or 1996? Until recently, she claimed not to know. Tuesday, she said it was in the spring of 1996. No date. No date means her story can’t be fact-checked.
Here’s what bugs me the most.
If Carroll’s accusation is true, she should have spoken out at the time and called the police instantly.
It’s possible authorities might have chosen not to prosecute because it was a he said/she said case, but there would be a record of a complaint, and the act itself would put Trump on notice.
Also, there would be a date of the alleged attack.
Later, out of civic-mindedness, Carroll could have spoken up when Trump ran for president.
Instead, she waited until 2019 when she was hawking her memoir.
If Carroll wins a settlement, she will have been rewarded for doing everything wrong.
She didn’t report the alleged incident when police could have collected evidence and talked to corroborating witnesses.
She didn’t report the incident within the criminal statute of limitations, thus shielding her alleged rapist from prosecution and incarceration — which, if her story is true, he deserved. More to the point: The public deserved.
New York lawmakers rewarded her failure to speak in 2022 when they passed the Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily opened a window in the statute of limitations — thus allowing Carroll to sue Trump civilly.
I have huge issues with Trump. He lied about losing the election and stoked uncivil behavior on Jan. 6. He’s a sore loser who used to brag that when he owned the Miss Universe contest, he walked through the dressing room where he saw naked and half-naked contestants. We know how he has treated women.
But that doesn’t mean New York should have reworked its statute of limitations or that news organizations should dispense with healthy skepticism about an unreliable witness hawking a moldy case steeped in partisan politics.
In America, the burden of proof should be on the accuser, not the accused. Apparently that bedrock belief goes out the window for Trump.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at email@example.com.
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