A columnist can proceed with lawsuits alleging she was raped by former US president Donald Trump in a department store a quarter century ago, a federal judge has ruled, upholding a temporary New York state law letting adult victims of sexual abuse sue their abusers.
Judge Lewis A Kaplan said lawsuits alleging rape and defamation and seeking unspecified damages by writer E Jean Carroll could proceed to trial because Trump's challenges were without merit.
"The fact that Mr Trump denies Ms Carroll's allegations does not enter into the analysis at this stage of the case," the Manhattan jurist wrote.
"What, if anything, actually occurred must await further proceedings if the complaint withstands the present motion."
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement: "While we are disappointed with the court's decision, we intend to immediately appeal the order and continue to advocate for our client's constitutionally protected rights."
In the ruling, Kaplan said the Adult Survivor's Act was similar to the Child Victims Act, another New York state law that temporarily allowed victims of sexual assaults when they were children to sue their abusers years later.
"Mr Trump has not offered any meritorious reason to reject the one-year revival period in the ASA as unreasonable when the nearly identical two-year revival period in the Child Victims Act has been accepted as reasonable by all courts to consider it," Kaplan wrote.
Lawyers for the former president had asked the judge to toss out the lawsuit after Trump said the encounter at an upscale Manhattan department store never happened.
Trump said Carroll made the claim publicly for the first time in a 2019 book to generate book sales.
Carroll was a longtime Elle magazine columnist.
She initially sued Trump for defamation after he mocked her claims that he sexually assaulted her in late 1995 or early 1996 after they had a chance meeting in the department store and she agreed to help him pick out lingerie for a friend.
Trump has repeatedly denied the encounter took place, calling her allegations "a complete con job" and saying "she's not my type".
"No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around??" Trump said in one of various statements and interviews.
"People should pay dearly for such false accusations."
Carroll sued Trump with the rape claim in November, when the Adult Survivor's Act took effect.
Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll who is not related to the judge, said in an email: "We are pleased though not surprised that Judge Kaplan denied Donald Trump's motion to dismiss and upheld the constitutionality of New York's Adult Survivors Act. We look forward to trial in April."