A U.S. judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s effort to exclude an “Access Hollywood” tape of him making vulgar comments about women from a defamation lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who says the former president raped her in the mid-1990s.
Carroll sought to introduce an excerpt from the tape, which was recorded in 2005 and where Trump boasted about forcing himself on women, as evidence that Trump had a propensity for sexual assaults comparable to hers.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said that while propensity evidence is ordinarily not admissible, a reasonable jury could find that Trump admitted in the 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.”
Trump has denied raping Carroll. His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Carroll’s lawyers, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
The 23-page decision came in the first of Carroll’s two defamation lawsuits over her alleged encounter with Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.
Carroll sued Trump in 2019 after he told a reporter at the White House that he did not know Carroll, that she was not his type, and that she made up the rape claim to sell her memoir. She sued again in 2022 after Trump repeated his denials online.
In the “Access Hollywood” excerpt, Trump graphically described his unsuccessful attempt to have a sexual encounter with a married woman, and described himself as being attracted to beautiful women.
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump said. “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
The tape was released in October 2016 and threatened to upend Trump’s White House run. He defeated Hillary Clinton the following month to become president.
Kaplan also rejected Trump’s bid to exclude testimony from two other women who claimed he sexually assaulted them, and evidence that Carroll suffered emotional harm.
Carroll’s second lawsuit also includes a battery claim under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which lets sexual abuse victims sue their attackers even if statutes of limitations have run out. An April 25 trial is scheduled.
The cases are Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 20-00731 and 22-10016.