(The Hill) – A federal judge ruled on Friday that E. Jean Carroll can use the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and the testimony of two other women who have accused former President Donald Trump of sexual assault as evidence at trial in her defamation case.
District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected a request from Trump’s team to disallow the tape and the testimony from the two women, Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds, who separately accused the former president of assaulting them in late 1970s and early 2000s.
The disagreement centered on a rule that allows for evidence that a defendant “committed any other sexual assault” when a civil case is “based on a party’s alleged sexual assault.”
Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in a department store in the mid-1990s and of later defaming her by claiming that she lied about the incident. The alleged defamation includes a 2019 interview with The Hill in which Trump said Carroll was “totally lying” and “not my type.”
Because Carroll has two pending cases against the former president — one solely for defamation and another for battery and defamation — Trump argued that the case that pertains only to defamation is not based on an alleged sexual assault and does not fall under the evidence rule.
However, Kaplan rejected Trump’s reasoning, noting that “proof of sexual assault is an essential element of Ms. Carroll’s defamation claim given the nature of the alleged defamation.”
The “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005, which resurfaced ahead of the 2016 presidential election, captured Trump boasting about his apparently unsolicited advances on women.
“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said, adding, “Grab them by the [expletive]. You can do anything.”
Kaplan noted that the tape is relevant in Carroll’s case given that “a jury reasonably could find, even from the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape alone, that Mr. Trump admitted in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape that he in fact has had contact with women’s genitalia in the past without their consent, or that he has attempted to do so.”
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In the case of the two other accusers, Trump argued that their allegations are “vastly different” from Carroll’s, a claim that Kaplan dismissed as “not very persuasive.”
“The alleged acts are far more similar than different in the important aspects,” the judge noted.
Leeds accused Trump of sexually assaulting her on a flight from Texas to New York in 1979, while Stoynoff claimed that the former president assaulted her at Mar-a-Lago in 2005 during a visit to conduct an interview for People magazine.
Trump has denied both allegations.