In an excerpt from her new book published in New York Magazine in June, E. Jean Carroll claimed that Donald Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996. One of the friends she confided in at the time “grew very quiet when I told her, then she grasped both my hands in her own and said, ‘Tell no one. Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.’”
On the day the excerpt was published, Carroll told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell that she did not intend to file charges: “I would find it disrespectful to the women who are down on the border who are being raped around the clock down there without any protection.” But nearly a month later, it appears the advice columnist and author may be changing her mind.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Carroll said that she is considering “hiring a really smart attorney” to sue Trump. “I hadn’t thought about pressing charges, but now people are convincing me that it’s smart. If I get a really smart attorney, we might be able to get around [the statute of limitations]. I’ll be exploring it.”
In 2006, the State of New York got rid of its five-year statute of limitations for first-degree rape, allowing prosecutors to go back decades to pursue a case. However, the repeal does not apply to cases prior to 2006. In an interview with Mother Jones, Roger Canaff, a former sex-crimes prosecutor in the Bronx, explained some of the challenges of a possible state case against Trump for the alleged rape. Barriers include “the amount of time that’s passed, the fact that there don’t appear to be any witnesses to it. [Without DNA evidence], it’s very much her word against his word, and it’s such an old situation.” However, as Carroll writes in her book, she still owns the article of clothing she wore when she was assaulted by Trump: “The Donna Karan coatdress still hangs on the back of my closet door, unworn and unlaundered since that evening.”
“If she still has the dress, then there’s a possibility that it has biological material on it,” Canaff told Mother Jones. “It can be examined and tested for that. DNA does degrade, but, you know, is it under plastic? It just totally depends on how she’s kept this dress and where it’s been. But testing is a lot more sophisticated now than it was even 20 years ago.”