16:06, June 21 127 0 theguardian.com

2019-06-21 16:06:05
Donald Trump accused of sexually assaulting writer E Jean Carroll

Donald Trump is facing a fresh allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman in his days as a real estate developer in the mid 1990s, adding to the long list of claims against him of sexual misconduct.

In a cover story in New York magazine, the writer E Jean Carroll relates an incident in which she encountered Trump in the Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman some time in late 1995 or early 1996. She was 52 years old and had recently started an advice column for Elle magazine called Ask E Jean, and he would have been 49 or 50, and married to Marla Marples.

Carroll alleges that Trump assaulted her in a dressing room in the store after he had asked her for advice on a present to buy a female friend. He selected a “lacy see-through bodysuit of lilac gray” and asked her to model it for him; she quipped back that he should try it on.

When they reached the dressing room, Carroll alleges that Trump lunged at her and over the next three minutes sexually assaulted her. “He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights,” she writes.

In a “colossal struggle” he unzipped his trousers and forced his fingers around her genitals and thrusted his penis “halfway – or completely, I’m not certain – inside me.”

She managed to force him off her, Carroll alleges, open the door of the dressing room and flee.

The White House has responded to New York magazine’s account with a flat denial of the allegations. In a statement to the magazine, a spokesman said: “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the president look bad.”

The Guardian has contacted the White House for comment.

New York magazine said that two of Carroll’s friends – both prominent but unnamed journalists – confirmed that she had related the alleged incident to them at the time and that they had full recollection of the account.

Describing one of her friend’s reaction, Carroll writes: “‘He raped you,’ she kept repeating when I called her. ‘He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.’”

Carroll said in her article that she had not gone to police with a complaint right after the alleged incident and that there was no visual or other lasting evidence of the events to corroborate her claims.

Carroll asks herself the question that many people will now ask: why didn’t she come forward with these details earlier? She writes that she had watched other women making similar allegations against Trump “receiving death threats, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud … Also, I am a coward”.

Carroll has added her name to a long line of women who have come forward to publicly accuse Trump of sexual improprieties and assault. In her own article, she listed 15 women: Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson and Cassandra Searles.

In November 2017, the Guardian chronicled the sexual misconduct accusations of 20 women against Trump, and more have come forward since then. Most recently, in February, Alva Johnson, a former staffer on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, lodged a federal lawsuit in which she accused him of forcibly kissing her at a campaign event in Tampa, Florida.

The stock position of Trump and his inner circle has remained consistent: all the women who have accused him are lying or peddling “fake news”. In the case of Johnson, the then White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who stepped down from the job this month, dismissed the allegations as “absurd on its face”.

In Carroll’s New York magazine article – an extract from her new book, What Do We Need Men For? – she lays out a long personal history of unpleasant and at times violent encounters with those she collectively denounces as “hideous men”. Shortly after the incident with Trump, she alleges she was sexually molested in an elevator by Les Moonves, then chairman and CEO of the CBS Corporation, after she had interviewed him for Esquire magazine in 1997.

Moonves denied the incident to New York magazine. He resigned from his post as one of the most powerful executives in television in September 2018 after 12 women accused him of sexual harassment or assault stretching back to the 1980s.

It is unclear how much impact, if any, the latest allegation of sexual misconduct will have on Trump’s chances of securing a second term in the White House when the nation votes in November 2020. One of the mysteries of his presidential victory in 2016 was how he easily he seemed to be able to swat away public outrage over misogynist remarks made in the notorious Access Hollywood tapes.

Many pundits assumed that Trump’s presidential hopes were obliterated when the Washington Post published details of the tapes just weeks before the 2016 election. In them Trump was heard bragging that as a TV celebrity “you can do anything” with beautiful women, including “grab them by the pussy”.

The US president launched his campaign for a second term in Florida this week.


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