Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan has opted to allow testimony from two other women at an upcoming trial on claims against Donald Trump of sexual assault.
The underlying case is from writer E. Jean Carroll, who filed civil claims against the ex-president over an incident of sexual assault she says he perpetrated against her in the 1990s. The trial will hinge on the claims directly covering the claimed attack rather than the allegations of defamation she filed earlier that have been the subject of lengthy court disputes about whether presidential protections apply to Trump’s disputed statements. The other women now expected to testify at the civil trial next month include Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, whose own claims against Trump of sexual misconduct extend across decades. Leeds has said Trump assaulted her on an airplane around the late 1970s, and Stoynoff says the now ex-president similarly targeted her during a visit to Trump’s resort Mar-a-Lago in 2005.
At the time, Stoynoff was working on an article about Donald for People magazine. Both Leeds and Stoynoff already sat for depositions during the discovery period, which is a span of time before trial in which the respective sides have the opportunity to gather potentially relevant evidence.
In discussion with a lawyer for Carroll, each woman explained some of the specific details of what she went through with the ex-president, and in arguing for allowing testimony from Stoynoff and Leeds at trial, Carroll’s defense argued that the circumstances surrounding their situations — including some of the antagonistic responses Trump made to their accusations in a manner similar to Carroll’s own case — established a directly relevant factual record of an arguable pattern. “Stoynoff’s and Leeds’ accusations against Trump, and his responses denying those accusations, are relevant evidence that he committed additional sexual assaults,” the writer’s defense asserted.
Alina Habba, representing Trump amid these proceedings, argued including the testimony would foster unacceptable prejudice against Trump, although Kaplan — the judge — already ruled to allow testimony from the women at trial on the earlier defamation claims from Carroll, whenever — or if — that trial takes place.
Kaplan is also allowing the usage at trial of the infamous tape of Trump from Access Hollywood boasting about committing sexual assault. The recording first broadly circulated among members of the public before the 2016 presidential election, although there was no substantial drop in his support in connection to the scandal. Kaplan had also already allowed the Access Hollywood tape for the planned trial on Carroll’s earlier defamation claims. At other points in the lead-up to trial, Trump and Carroll have both been deposed, with Trump restating some of his antagonism under oath — and misidentifying Carroll in an old photo as a former wife of his, undercutting his consistent assertion the writer isn’t his so-called “type.”