Trump accuser says many in her generation didn’t report rape

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll arrives at Manhattan federal court.
Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll arrives at Manhattan federal court on Monday.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)
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A magazine columnist who says Donald Trump raped her in a department-store dressing room two decades before he became president acknowledged Monday that she did not follow her own advice to readers that they report sexual attacks to police.

E. Jean Carroll, 79, told a federal civil court jury that as a member of the “silent generation,” she was conditioned to keep her chin up and not complain.

“The fact that I never went to the police is not surprising for somebody my age,” she testified as Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina cross-examined her about why she never went to authorities about the alleged rape, which Trump denies. Carroll said she had called police only once in her life, when she thought a mailbox at a home where she was staying might be damaged on Halloween.


“You would call police if a mailbox was attacked,” Tacopina asked, “but not if you yourself were attacked?”

Carroll replied that she was ashamed of the alleged rape at the time. She later added that she was mindful of Trump’s power and connections in New York and “didn’t think police would take me seriously.”

Rapes and sexual assaults are among the types of violent crime least likely to be reported to police, researchers have found. An annual U.S. crime victimization survey found that less than 23% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported in 2021 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

E. Jean Carroll tells a jury that Donald Trump raped her in a department store fitting room in 1996. The former president calls the civil trial a “Witch Hunt.”

April 26, 2023

Carroll on Monday wrapped up three days of testimony in the trial stemming from her lawsuit against Trump. The trial is due to continue Tuesday with witnesses on her behalf.

Trump, who traveled to Scotland on Monday to open a golf course at his resort near Aberdeen, has not attended the trial. Jurors are expected to see parts of a recording of him answering questions under oath last fall.

Carroll has said the real estate magnate raped her in the spring of 1996 at the tony store Bergdorf Goodman after they went into a dressing room together in an encounter that she said was fun and flirtatious until Trump became violent. She said she eventually kneed him and fled.


Trump, 76, says he was never at the store with Carroll and didn’t know her beyond a fleeting moment in 1987 when they were photographed in a group setting.

Shortly before Carroll first took the stand last week, Trump on his social media platform described the rape accusation as “a fraudulent & false story.”

In court Monday, Tacopina brought up a 2012 episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in which a male character briefly speaks about acting out a sexual fantasy that involves bursting in on a woman trying on lingerie in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. Jurors saw an email in which someone mentioned the episode to Carroll after she went public with her claim in 2019.

Former President Trump’s behavior toward women has long been a source of flashpoints in his political career.

April 22, 2023

Carroll testified that she has never seen the episode, didn’t know about it before receiving the email and didn’t make up an accusation based on a TV show. She said she wasn’t surprised at the points of similarity.

“The ‘Law & Order’ writers are very good about keying into the psyches of their viewers,” said Carroll, asserting that many people have misplaced fantasies about rape.

Her testimony came shortly after Tacopina asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is overseeing the civil proceedings, to declare a mistrial because of rulings he made that Tacopina said favored Carroll. The judge rejected the request.


Carroll sued Trump in November, under a New York state law that gave victims a one-year window to sue over alleged sexual attacks that happened even decades ago.

Amid a flurry of public denials and insults from Trump that prompted Carroll to add a defamation claim to the lawsuit, the former president has insisted that she was motivated by political reasons and a desire to sell copies of her 2019 memoir.

Carroll has testified that she spoke out because of the #MeToo movement, which gained prominence in 2017.

Carroll wrote an advice column for Elle magazine for nearly three decades. Tacopina confronted her Monday with instances in which she advised readers who wrote in about sexual assaults and threats to contact law enforcement.

“I always — in most cases — advised my readers to go to the police,” Carroll acknowledged.

Tacopina pointed out that although Carroll’s memoir described sexual assaults by men over the course of her life, Trump was the only one she sued. Although Trump has insisted he had no sexual encounter — indeed, “no anything” — with Carroll, his attorney asked her whether what allegedly happened could “somehow be viewed as consensual.”

“It was not consensual,” she said emphatically.

The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.