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Jury can see ‘Access Hollywood’ tape in E. Jean Carroll’s rape case against Trump, federal judge rules

Donald Trump screenshot from 'Access Hollywood' tape

Donald Trump and Billy Bush exit the bus in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. (Screenshot via NBC)

Former President Donald Trump cannot keep E. Jean Carroll from showing a jury the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that nearly derailed his 2016 campaign in a lawsuit accusing him of rape, a federal judge ruled.

“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 has attempted to do so,” Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in a 23-page memorandum opinion.

Carroll has filed two lawsuits against the former president: one accusing him of defaming her in responding to her sexual assault allegations by telling reporters “she’s not my type,” and another confronting the sexual battery allegations directly under New York’s recently passed Adult Survivors Act.

In the mid-1990s, Carroll claims, Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman. Trial on the allegations is slated for April.

As the parties prepare their cases for a jury, Kaplan issued a ruling hashing out what evidence they can see and hear. Trump has argued that the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he can be heard boasting to Billy Bush about grabbing women “by the p—-,” is inadmissible propensity evidence.

Kaplan told the former president that he can save his defenses about the tape for a jury.

“The Court acknowledges that Mr. Trump has claimed that his statements were ‘locker room talk’ — presumably meaning that they were not true — and that he has denied that he has behaved in the manner described by his statements,” the opinion states. “Although he has not so argued, some of the statements perhaps may be susceptible of varying interpretations including in some respects interpretations that may be inconsistent with sexual misconduct by Mr. Trump. Possibly, for example, he may claim that he was speaking of what other ‘stars’ have done, not his own conduct.”

Such arguments do not justify excluding the evidence, the judge added.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan also pushed for testimony from other Trump accusers: Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds. Stoynoff alleges that Trump assaulted her at his Florida Mar-a-Lago compound in 2005, and Leeds says Trump assaulted her on a plane in the 1980s. Trump denies all allegations — and said that his attorneys can persist in those denials before a jury.

“Mr. Trump’s attempt to minimize the similarity between his alleged actions with respect to Ms. Leeds and Ms. Stoynoff, on the one hand, and Ms. Carroll on the other is not very persuasive,” the opinion states. “The alleged acts are far more similar than different in the important aspects. In each case, the alleged victim claims that Mr. Trump suddenly attacked her sexually. In the cases of Ms. Carroll and Ms. Stoynoff, he allegedly did so in a location after closing a door behind him, which gave him privacy. In all three cases, he allegedly did so without consent.”

Kaplan deferred ruling on the admissibility of seven excerpts of Trump’s 2016 campaign statements until trial.

“We maintain the utmost confidence that our client will be vindicated at the upcoming trial,” Trump’s attorney Alina Habba told Law&Crime.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation) declined to comment.

Read the opinion here.

Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."