And why coverage of writer E. Jean Carroll's accusation has caused controversy.

By Kimberly Truong
Updated: Jun 25, 2019 @ 1:59 pm

Last Friday, New York Magazine's the Cut published an excerpt from writer E. Jean Carroll's forthcoming book, in which she said that President Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman fitting room more than 20 years ago. 

Of course, this isn't the first accusation of sexual misconduct the president has faced — at least 22 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct in incidents occurring from the 1980s until 2016. 

Here's what you need to know about the latest allegation. 

Who is E. Jean Carroll?

Carroll is an author and has been an advice columnist at Elle for over 25 years. 

In the excerpt from her book, What Do We Need Men For? (available July 2), Carroll says that she and Trump had met once before and encountered each other again at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City in 1995 or 1996, and he asked her to come "advise" him on a present he needed to buy. 

She wrote that Trump told her to go into a fitting room and try on a "see-through bodysuit," allegedly leading her to an unmonitored dressing room. 

Getty Images

What Are the Allegations?

Carroll wrote that "The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips."

The struggle, she said, continued when he pushed her against the wall, "holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights."

"The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me," she wrote.

“The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes. I do not believe he ejaculates,” she continued.

She ended the story by writing, “But I have never had sex with anybody ever again.”

How Has Trump Responded?

Trump first responded with a statement on Friday denying that he had even met Carroll, despite there being a photo of the two of them together at an NBC party in around 1987 that was included in the story. Also pictured in the photo were Trump's wife at the time, Ivana, and Carroll's then-husband, television-news anchor John Johnson. 

Then, on Monday, he again denied the incident to The Hill, telling the outlet that Carroll was "totally lying."

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” he said.

It's not the first time Trump has responded to sexual assault and misconduct allegations by suggesting that the woman in question was not attractive enough for him. 

“Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” he said in 2017 in regards to a woman who accused him of groping her on a plane. “That would not be my first choice.”

In response to an allegation from a People reporter who claimed he groped her, Trump said, "Look at her. Look at her words. Tell me what you think. I don’t think so."

How Did Carroll Respond?

"I love that I'm not his type," Carroll said during a CNN interview. 

What Other Allegations Has He Faced?

Fortune reported earlier this year that at least 22 women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the president since the October 2016 release of a 2005 Access Hollywood tape where Trump is heard bragging about grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without consent.

"You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them," he said on the tape. "It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."

Why Has Coverage of the Incident Been a Source of Controversy?

When the story broke, the New York Times faced criticism for its muted response, having chosen to omit the story from the home page and publish it instead under the "Books" section. On Monday, Times top editor Dean Baquet issued an apology for underplaying the article, explaining that the paper initially had issues with a lack of sources willing to corroborate Carroll's story.

Carroll recalled telling two friends about her encounter with Trump, both of whom confirmed the allegations to New York Magazine and to the Times.

"We were overly cautious," he said. "We were playing by rules that didn’t quite apply. They’ve allowed us to break major stories, from Bill O’Reilly to Harvey Weinstein. But in this case, it was a different kind of story."

RELATED: #WhyIDidntReport Is the Most Powerful Reaction to Trump's Comments About Sexual Assault

Carroll herself stopped short of calling the incident rape, but others have pointed out that if her account is true, what happened to her classifies as rape. In 2016, an unnamed plaintiff who also went by the name “Katie Johnson” in legal papers claimed in a lawsuit that she was repeatedly raped by Trump and Jeffery Epstein at Epstein’s New York City apartment in 1994, when she was 13 years old.

While ex-wife Ivana once used the word "rape" to describe a 1989 incident between them while they were still married, she later hedged, saying that she didn't mean it in a "criminal" sense. 

If you're a victim of sexual assault and need assistance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800)799-7233 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800)656-4673.

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