Crime & Justice

Jury selection concludes in Trump rape trial

New York, Apr 25 (EFE).- The civil trial in which former President Donald Trump stands accused of defamation and rape began Tuesday with jury selection in federal court in lower Manhattan, local media reported.

Trump stands accused of defamation and rape by writer and journalist E. Jean Carroll, who attended the first court session, in contrast to the ex-president, whose attorneys claimed that his appearance in the courtroom would create “logistical and financial burdens upon New York City, its residents, and court itself.”

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who had offered to allow Trump not to attend the court sessions but said it was the ex-president’s decision alone whether or not to show up, ruled that the jury will remain anonymous even to the two sides’ attorneys, given the possibility that they might be subjected to unwanted press coverage, or to harassment or even attack by Trump’s followers.

The trial, the opening arguments for which were scheduled to begin at 2:45 pm on Tuesday, is proceeding in civil court and thus the ex-president is not facing any prison time, but – if he is found guilty – he could be obligated to pay a significant amount in damages to Carroll.

In addition, this is the first time that Trump is facing legal consequences for his alleged attacks or incidents of sexual abuse, although dozens of women have accused him of such behavior over the years.

Carroll filed her suit against Trump in 2019, while he was still president, claiming that in either 1995 or 1996 the then-real estate magnate cornered her in a dressing room in one of New York’s big stores and raped her, an incident she related to two female friends – who have been called to testify in the case – although she did not report the attack to the police at the time.

When the lawsuit became public, Trump downplayed it saying that Carroll was not his “type” and thus he could not have attacked her, adding that the whole thing was “a con job,” a “hoax” and “a complete scam” and that what she was seeking was free publicity to promote a book, among other claims he made about what motivated Carroll to file her defamation suit.

The nine-person jury consisting of six men and three women was empaneled on Tuesday and the trial is expected to last five to 10 days.

Trump’s legal team has tried to delay the start of the trial by presenting various motions to Judge Kaplan, the latest one alleging that a period of “calm” was needed to be able to objectively select a jury in the wake of the indictment of their client earlier in April on 34 felony counts for falsifying business records, but the magistrate has ruled against all those attempts.

Earlier this month, Trump was arraigned on criminal charges in an unrelated case involving hush money payments to women who have alleged having affairs with him. The former president pleaded not guilty to those charges, denying those affairs and any wrongdoing.

EFE –/bp

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