A federal judge ruled Friday that the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump bragged about groping women without their consent can be used as evidence in the defamation trial brought by a woman accusing him of rape.
Writer E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for defamation and sexual assault. Trump has rejected the rape allegation and repeatedly argued that the 2005 recording of him was just “locker-room talk,” and thus irrelevant to the case.
But Judge Lewis Kaplan determined otherwise. “In this case, 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 had attempted to do so,” he wrote in his decision.
Kaplan also ruled that testimony from two other women who accuse Trump of sexually assaulting them can be introduced as evidence in the trial. “Most of the evidence that Mr. Trump seeks to keep from the trial jury is to the effect that Mr. Trump allegedly has abused or attempted to abuse women other than Ms. Carroll in ways that are comparable to what he allegedly did to Ms. Carroll,” he wrote in his decision. “In other words, Ms. Carroll offers evidence to show that Mr. Trump has a propensity for such behavior.”
Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She has sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media. She isn’t alone: At least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault since the 1970s, all of which he has denied.
The Access Hollywood tape, from a 2005 taping of the show, caught Trump on a hot mic saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.” It became public in 2016, just days before his second debate against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Now, it seems, Trump will soon have to hear the tape replayed to him in court. Kaplan has set the trial date for April 25.