The Trump Trial: How the Adult Survivors Act Gave E. Jean Carroll and Others a Voice

May 4, 2023

Splashed on the front page of every paper in the country is the story of the ongoing trial against Former President Donald J. Trump. E. Jean Carroll, a writer and a former columnist for Elle magazine, alleges that Trump viciously raped her nearly 30 years ago in a department store dressing room. A year ago, Ms. Carroll would not have been able to bring these claims in court. However, with the passage of the New York Adult Survivors Act, survivors of sexual assault are given a finite window within which these claims will be revived. That window ends on November 23, 2023.

During cross examination on April 27, 2023, defense counsel questioned Ms. Carroll as to why she never came forward about the alleged rape by Trump. The truth is, this is extremely common among survivors of sexual assault. Ms. Carroll, like many others, stated she did not do so because she was filled with fear and shame. Indeed, there are many “reasons for delay, including ‘fear of retaliation by the offender, fear of not being believed, fear of being blamed for the assault, fear of being ‘revictimized’ if the case goes through the criminal justice system, belief that the offender will not be held accountable, wanting to forget the assault ever happened, not recognizing that what happened was sexual assault, shame, and/or shock.’” In fact, only 31 percent of sexual assaults are reported to police, and of those, only 2.5% of perpetrators were incarcerated as a result. Against those odds, it is unsurprising that many women choose not to report incidents of sexual assault when they occur. This is even more true for alleged sexual assaults like E. Jean Carroll’s, which occurred decades ago. For example, in the mid-90s, the time when Ms. Carroll alleges Mr. Trump assaulted her, a staggering 71% of sexual assaults were not reported to the police. She and many other women with similar circumstances now have the chance to face their attackers if they so choose.

New York’s Adult Survivors Act puts women who have long been unable to face their rapists and sexual assault perpetrators in a unique position to do so in a court of law until November 23, 2023. This Act allows for a window where, even if the statute of limitations on such claims has elapsed, these claims can be brought. It is unfathomable how many women like E. Jean Carroll will finally be afforded the ability to hold their attackers accountable under this new statute.

If you have been sexually assaulted in New York, regardless of when it happened, you should contact an attorney to discuss your situation.

At Outten & Golden, we are committed to helping victims of sexual assault. If you have questions about New York’s Adult Survivors Act, please contact the firm through the “Contact Us” form or by calling us in the New York office at (212) 404-0307 to begin the Outten & Golden intake process.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)