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Jury to start deliberations in suit accusing Trump of rape

FILE - Former President Donald J. Trump watches the NCAA Wrestling Championships, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Tulsa, Okla. Trump’s calls for protests ahead of his anticipated indictment in New York have generated mostly muted reactions from supporters, with even some of his most ardent loyalists dismissing the idea as a waste of time or a law enforcement trap. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Sue Ogrocki/AP
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AP
FILE - Former President Donald J. Trump.

A jury in New York City is set to begin deliberations Tuesday in a civil trial over advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's claims that Donald Trump raped her in a luxury Manhattan department store in 1996.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan will read instructions on the law to the nine-person jury for about an hour before jurors begin discussing the civil claims of battery and defamation.

If they believe Carroll, jurors can award compensatory and punitive damages. Trump, who did not attend the trial, has insisted he never sexually assaulted Carroll or knew her.

Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told the jury in closing arguments Monday that Carroll's story is too far fetched to be believed. He said she made it up to fuel sales of a 2019 memoir where she first publicly revealed her claims and to disparage Trump for political reasons.

Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, cited excerpts from Trump's October deposition and his notorious comments on a 2005 "Access Hollywood" video in which he said celebrities can grab women between the legs without asking.

She urged jurors to believe her client.

"He didn't even bother to show up here in person," Kaplan said, referring to Trump's absence from court during the two weeks of trial. She said much of what he said in his deposition and in public statements "actually supports our side of the case."

"In a very real sense, Donald Trump is a witness against himself," she said. "He knows what he did. He knows that he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll."

Carroll, 79, testified that she had a chance encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower. She said it was a lighthearted interaction in which they teased each other about trying on a piece of lingerie before Trump became violent inside a dressing room.

Tacopina told jurors there was no reason to call Trump as a witness when Carroll can't even recall when her encounter with Trump happened.

He told the jury Carroll made up her claims after hearing about a 2012 "Law and Order" episode in which a woman is raped in the dressing room of the lingerie section of a Bergdorf Goodman store.

"They modeled their secret scheme on an episode of one of the most popular shows on television," he said of Carroll.

Two of Carroll's friends testified that she told them about the encounter with Trump shortly after it happened, many years before the "Law and Order" episode aired.

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