Trump faces new trial date in rape accuser's lawsuit

Former U.S. President Donald Trump announces he will run for president in 2024 at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday delayed by two months the scheduled defamation trial of Donald Trump by a writer who accused the former U.S. president of rape.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan set an April 10, 2023 date for E. Jean Carroll to try to prove that Trump lied by denying he raped her about 27 years ago in a dressing room in a Bergdorf Goodman department store.

Kaplan did not rule on Carroll's request to hold one trial combining the lawsuit, which the former longtime Elle magazine columnist filed in November 2019, with a second lawsuit she filed last week accusing Trump of battery.

Carroll, 78, brought that case under the Adult Survivors Act, a new law in New York that gives sexual assault victims a one-year window to sue over alleged attacks that occurred long ago even if statutes of limitations have run out.

Trump, 76, opposed combining the lawsuits, with his lawyers saying they did not know who would represent him in the second lawsuit. He had wanted a May 8, 2023 trial for the first lawsuit. The original date was Feb. 6.

Carroll's lawyer Roberta Kaplan said she was pleased with the new trial date, and understood the decision to defer rulings in the second case. Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages.

Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Carroll made the rape accusation in her memoir, and sued Trump after he claimed in June 2019 not to know her and said she was "not my type."

Her first lawsuit has been delayed as appeals courts consider whether Trump was acting as president when he scoffed at the rape claim.

If he was, then the United States would be substituted as the defendant, and the first lawsuit would fail because the government cannot be sued for defamation.

Carroll's second lawsuit also includes a defamation claim over an Oct. 12 social media post where Trump repeated his denial and called the rape claim a "hoax" and "lie."

Immunity would likely not be an issue there because Trump has not been president since January 2021.

The cases are Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 20-07311 and 22-10016.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)