E. Jean Carroll Donald Trump SPLIT
Ex-Trump White House lawyer says E. Jean Carroll's case is 'quite strong'
02:18 - Source: CNN
New York CNN  — 

E. Jean Carroll and two other women will testify in the battery and defamation trial against former President Donald Trump to show Trump’s pattern of alleged violent behavior, Carroll’s attorney told jurors during opening statements on Tuesday.

“Three women, one clear pattern,” attorney Shawn Crowley said. “Start with a friendly encounter in a semi-public place. All of a sudden pounce, kiss, grab, grope. Don’t wait. When you are a star, you can do anything you want. And when they speak up about what happened, attack. Humiliate them. Call them liars. Call them too ugly to assault.”

Carroll is suing Trump for battery and defamation, alleging that he raped her in a Manhattan luxury department store dressing room in the spring of 1996 and then defamed her years later when she went public with the allegations. A jury was seated Tuesday and the first witnesses will appear beginning Wednesday.

Carroll is expected to testify Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. The first witness is expected to be Cheryl Beal, who worked at Bergdorf Goodman, the source said.

“You, of course, are going to hear from Ms. Carroll herself,” Crowley said. “She will testify about her traumatic encounter with Donald Trump, about her decision to stay silent so long, and about how when she finally did speak publicly, Donald Trump responded with vicious lies meant to destroy her.”

Carroll will candidly acknowledge the shame she felt about the alleged assault and her decision not to come forward sooner. “How could she tell the world that she had been dumb enough to go into a dressing room with Donald Trump,” Carroll thought to herself, according to her attorney.

At the time Carroll didn’t view Trump as dangerous, but a “character” and “a man about town,” Crowley said.

Jurors won’t have to base their decision solely on Carroll’s testimony, the attorney said, because two friends to Carroll will corroborate her account and two former Bergdorf Goodman employees who worked at the store in 1996 will corroborate details of Carroll’s account. They’ll testify that they personally saw Trump shop at Bergdorf Goodman several times during that time period, a fact Trump has previously contested.

Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina said during his opening statement Carroll conspired against the former president with the two women, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, because they hate him politically.

“They schemed to hurt Donald Trump politically,” Trump’s attorney said trial evidence will show.

Tacopina told the jury they’re not there to consider the accounts of those two women.

“That’s not for you to decide here,” Tacopina said. “Those people have never made a claim. No one has ever told the police, including Ms. Carroll. No one. Because that would require a real investigation. No one has ever done that. But they want you to focus on anything but the E. Jean Carroll story because it is so incredible and so unbelievable.”

Tacopina asked the jury to focus on the matter at hand and called Carroll’s account vague and inconsistent.

“It all comes down to do you believe the unbelievable. Nothing else in this courtroom matters,” he said.

‘Access Hollywood’ tape to be played

The jury will see the “Access Hollywood” tape that captured Trump graphically describing how he would use his stardom to aggressively come on to women, Carroll’s attorney said.

“You’ll hear him bragging about doing almost the same thing he did to Ms. Carroll to other women,” Carroll’s attorney said.

Trump has previously said his language on the tape was “locker room talk” not based in truth.

“This is not locker room talk, it’s exactly what he did to Ms. Carroll and other women,” Crowley said in court Tuesday.

Trump’s attorney acknowledged the Access Hollywood tape was foolish but not an admission.

“It’s foolish, but it is locker room talk,” Tacopina said.

It’s OK to hate Trump, his attorney says

On Tuesday, Tacopina walked through Carroll’s alleged account line by line, questioning the plausibility of some details and mocking it at times.

Carroll “did not produce any objective evidence to back up her claim because it didn’t happen,” the attorney said. Carroll, a columnist known to keep a diary, did not document the account in her personal diary, Tacopina added.

“She is abusing the system by advancing a false claim of rape for money, for political reasons and for status and in doing so she’s really minimizing the true rape victims,” Tacopina said. “She’s exploiting their pain and their suffering.”

He told the jurors that they can feel free to hate Trump.

“People have very strong feelings about Donald Trump,” Tacopina said. “You can hate Donald Trump, it’s okay. There’s a time and a secret place for that. It’s called a ballot box. But not here in the court of law.”

Will Trump testify?

Trump’s legal team will not put on a lengthy case in his defense, Tacopina suggested, but will seek to knock down Carroll’s case during cross examination of plaintiff witnesses.

“It’s coming out through the questioning of their witnesses. That’s our entire defense. That and some sworn testimony from Donald Trump that you’re going to see,” Tacopina said. “There are no witnesses to call to prove a negative.”

Trump is unlikely to testify in his own defense, but will rely on previous denials including in a video deposition taken last October in this case, Tacopina also suggested.

“There’s absolutely nothing more for him to add,” the lawyer said. “I don’t want to distract from the focus of her story.”

After the jury was dismissed for the day Judge Lewis Kaplan challenged Tacopina to confirm that Trump would not testify in his own defense.

Tacopina said he still doesn’t know definitively whether Trump will testify.

The judge told Trump’s counsel that it’s an imposition on court staff and security to leave the question unanswered and so Tacopina must inform the court definitively at some point this week.

This story has been updated with additional information.