Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Trump rape case: Lawyer blasts the former president's offer to finally submit DNA as a 'bad faith' delay tactic

Trump rape case: Lawyer blasts the former president's offer to finally submit DNA as a 'bad faith' delay tactic

In new court papers, E. Jean Carroll's lawyer says Trump's offer to finally submit DNA weeks before trial is a "transparent" manipulation.

Former President Donald Trump has agreed to undergo DNA testing as part of his defense in an upcoming civil rape trial in New York federal court, but lawyers for his accuser say the offer is coming too late and is just another delay tactic.

Trump's sudden willingness to submit a DNA sample after discovery in the case has ended — and after three years of denying the request — was confirmed in court papers Friday. It was first reported by the Daily Beast.

"Mr. Trump is indeed willing to provide a DNA sample for the sole purpose of comparing it to the DNA found on the dress at issue," Trump attorney Joe Tacopina says in the filing.

But the former president is also demanding that his accuser first turn over the genome it would be compared to.

"Mr. Trump's DNA is either on the dress or it is not," and his accuser should be willing to come forward with her own evidence, the filing argues.

"'Why is Plaintiff now hiding from this reality?" the filing asks. "We surmise that the answer to that question is that she knows his DNA is not on the dress because the alleged sexual assault never occurred."

Lawyers for Trump's accuser, E. Jean Carroll, vehemently opposed the last-minute offer for a DNA swab in their response to Tacopina's letter on Friday.

Carroll's lawyers first requested Trump's DNA in January 2020 to compare against skin particles found on the dress she said she was wearing during the alleged assault. But Trump resisted for years. Her lawyers now say he shouldn't be allowed to suddenly change his mind ahead of trial.

"Trump may prefer to put off trial for another day, and he (and his new lawyers,) may regret decisions that he made earlier in this case, but that is no basis to again delay Carroll's day in court," one of Carroll's attorneys, Roberta Kaplan, wrote on Friday.

She also called the last-minute offer a "blatant effort to influence the jury pool" and "yet another bad faith and legally frivolous delay tactic."

It's unclear if the judge will allow the last-minute DNA sample. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan (no relation to Carroll's attorney) has already complained multiple times about Trump's side dragging the case out with delay after delay.

Kaplan, the attorney, explained in her response Friday that she and other attorneys for Carroll ultimately decided not to fight Trump over his DNA because they anticipated appeals that could slow down the process.

"Carroll, now 79 years old, has built her case with powerful additional evidence and is ready to prove Trump's liability before a jury; she should not be prejudiced by Trump's latest gambit to violate the Court's orders and uproot the trial date," her lawyer wrote.

Tacopina declined to comment on Friday's filing. Kaplan said the response "speaks for itself."

A photo from the lab report that Donald Trump rape accuser E. Jean Carroll submitted in January, 2020 as part of her defamation lawsuit against the former president.

Carroll alleges Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s.

She told two close friends about the alleged attack, but not the police.

"Women who have been raped are looked at in this society as less, are looked at as spoiled goods, are looked at as rather dumb," she explained of keeping quiet, recounting the attack in a sworn deposition for the case.

Carroll kept the dress she says she was wearing at the time. Nearly 30 years later, lab tests recovered the skin cells of a yet-unidentified male on its sleeves, she has said in court filings.

Her legal team, led by Kaplan, demanded a "buccal, blood or skin cell sample from Defendant sufficient for DNA analysis and comparison against unidentified male DNA present on the dress that Plaintiff wore during the sexual assault at issue in this action."

The former president declined for three years to submit a sample for testing.

But Trump, who recently took on Tacopina as new lead lawyer, appears to now be changing tack.

Letting Trump's DNA into the case would be an 11th-hour roll of the dice for both sides.

It's risky for Trump, who denies even knowing Carroll. And it's risky for Carroll, who has publicly touted the dress's importance and who, absent a Trump sample, would be able to ask jurors "What does Trump have to hide?"

"This sample could be the key to the case," said defense lawyer Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a former chief assistant with the Manhattan district attorney's office.

"He's saying it never happened," said Friedman Agnifilo. "So if it is his DNA, a match would be so powerful to her case."

On the other hand, a "no match" result could cripple Carroll's side.

"She's come out and said, 'I saved the dress, I have a sample,' and so she's kind of stuck with that," Friedman Agnifilo said.

"The minute you introduce science into this and say 'I have evidence,' if the evidence isn't there it's hard to say 'you still have to believe me.' It becomes a harder mountain to climb," she added.

"I have the dress," Carroll had tweeted in 2021. "Trump is basically in deep shit."

"If it's not his DNA, or it's inconclusive because it's degraded, then it potentially could clear him," said Friedman Agnifilo.

"This could be Trump's version of 'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.'"

Carroll, a longtime Elle advice columnist, says she kept the Donna Karan coat dress hanging in her closet for decades — and never wore it again until posing in it on the cover of New York magazine in June 2019, when she first went public with her rape accusation in an essay for the outlet.

A few months later, Carroll sued Trump for defamation when he loudly and repeatedly denied her story. Trump said she wasn't his type and claimed he had never even met her, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.

Carroll sued Trump again last year, for a new claim of defamation and for the alleged rape itself, after New York passed a law temporarily allowing the filing of sexual-assault lawsuits in cases where the statute of limitations had expired.

Both lawsuits have April trial dates and may end up being combined and tried at the same time.

The judge has seemed intent on keeping to schedule. During a scheduling hearing in the case on Tuesday, Trump's lawyer asked for a six-week extension on Carroll's second lawsuit, but Kaplan only gave him one.

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