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Judge rules Trump free to skip rape accuser's trial, jurors won't hear why

Judge rules Trump free to skip rape accuser's trial, jurors won't hear why
US President Donald Trump(right) rape accuser E. Jean Carroll(left) arrives for her hearing at federal court during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US on Oct 21, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters file

NEW YORK — Donald Trump is free to skip a New York trial over accusations he raped a writer nearly 30 years ago, but jurors will for now not be told his absence was meant to avoid snarled traffic and heavy security, a federal judge ruled on Thursday (April 20).

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan also said it was premature to grant Trump's request that jurors at E. Jean Carroll's April 25 civil trial be instructed that staying away "by design, avoids the logistical burdens that his presence, as the former president," would cause.

Kaplan said Trump has no obligation to show up or testify, and his lawyers, who said Trump "wishes to appear," can renew the request if he doesn't.

The judge also noted that Trump, the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential campaign, is planning a New Hampshire campaign stop on April 27, which would be the trial's third day.

"If the Secret Service can protect him at that event, certainly the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York can see to his security in this very secure federal courthouse," Kaplan wrote.

Trump will decide during the trial whether to attend, his lawyer Joe Tacopina said in a letter on Thursday. He declined to comment on Kaplan's order.

Carroll plans to attend every day.

Her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, had objected to a special jury instruction, saying the idea that Trump's absence was "some sort of favour to the City of New York — and that the jury should be instructed as much — taxes the credulity of the credulous."

Security was tight and traffic was disrupted on April 4 when Trump pleaded not guilty in Manhattan criminal court, two blocks from the federal court, to unrelated criminal charges over hush money payments to a porn star.

Carroll, 79, has accused Trump, 76, of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in late 1995 or early 1996.

She is suing for defamation over an October 2022 social media post where Trump called the rape claim a hoax and a lie, and said Carroll was "not my type!" Carroll is also suing for battery.

ALSO READ: Judge rejects Trump's bid to learn juror names at defamation trial

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