Trump Sues ABC After Host Accuses Him Of 'Rape' In E. Jean Carroll Assault Case

Donald Trump on Monday filed a lawsuit against ABC News and George Stephanopoulos, claiming the anchor defamed the former president by saying he’d “raped” E. Jean Carroll instead of sexually assaulting her.

Stephanopoulos used the term several times in an interview earlier this month with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), where he asked her how she could defend a man who’d been found liable for rape.

“Judges and two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming the victim of that rape,” he said at one point. “How do you square your endorsement of Donald Trump with the testimony we just saw?”

The South Carolina Republican, who said she was raped at the age of 16, responded by calling the question “offensive” and accused the anchor of trying to “shame” her.

She also noted that Trump was found liable for sexual abuse ― not rape ― and that the charges were civil in nature, not criminal.

That point looms heavy in the 20-page complaint, which alleges Stephanopoulos “maliciously intended to convince his viewers ... that [Trump] had been found liable of rape.”

The suit requests judgment for “damages, punitive damages, court costs, and such other relief as the Court deems just and proper,” but doesn’t spell out a specific amount.

Mr. Trump in fact did 'rape' Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside of the New York Penal Law."District Judge Lewis Kaplan

An ABC News spokesperson declined to comment to HuffPost.

Trump’s legal team is hinging their case against ABC on something of a technicality, as New York state law narrowly defines “rape” as nonconsensual penile penetration. Trump was found by a civil court last year to have assaulted Carroll in a department store dressing room, forcibly penetrating her vagina with his fingers. But the court did not rule that the allegations met that more specific definition of rape.

Still, in an August 2023 filing, District Judge Lewis Kaplan clarified that those findings don’t mean Trump didn’t “rape” her per se.

“Based on all of the evidence at trial and the jury’s verdict as a whole, the jury’s finding that Mr. Trump ‘sexually abused’ Ms. Carroll implicitly determined that he forcibly penetrated her digitally,” Kaplan wrote.

“In other words, [Trump] in fact did ‘rape’ Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside of the New York Penal Law.”

A New York jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in damages last May. Trump then proceeded to defame Carroll over the case, leading to a separate $83.3 million in damages in January and a promise by Carroll to “absolutely” sue Trump again should he continue to defame her.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.