Or should the headline read “Another unbelievable Trump accuser?” In an article in New York Magazine, prominent advice columnist E. Jean Carroll accuses President Trump of having sexually assaulted her some twenty-five years ago in the changing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan. Before dealing with the specifics of this allegation, allow me to provide a bit of background on the foundation of my opinion in such matters.
We can all agree that sexual assault is a very serious crime – and like all major offenses, there are degrees. We lay them out in the law. The most serious is aggravated rape, which is defined as forced penetration. At the other side of the scale are a variety of legal classes of sexual assault and battery, which generally involves a range of groping, fondling and touching. Battery involves physical contact. Assault means to engender fear – threatening to rape, for example. The grey area is what we call “inappropriate behavior” – something former Vice President Joe Biden has recently confronted.
Other than rape, or attempted rape, most of the other sex crimes tend to be very subjective and arbitrary. One woman (or man) might be patted on the ass and take little to no offense – or just think of it as boorish behavior, depending on the circumstances. Other individuals might see the same action as sexual and feel violated.
Complicating the entire issue is the fact that most sexual assaults and batteries provide little evidence – with the exception of forcible rape, where semen, DNA, hair samples and fingerprints can support the accusation. The fact that the less brutal sexual assaults come down to she said/he said is unfortunate. Under our standards of criminal justice – innocent until PROVEN guilty and the requirement of evidence and substantiation – it is often very difficult to PROVE sexual assault.
Because of this unfortunate difficulty in proving the crime, many feminists argue that our entire American system of justice should be upended and that a woman should be believed … period. That was the message of the #MeToo Movement. Believing accusers at face value, however, is wrong and very dangerous. That is exactly what our rule-of-law has been crafted to avoid. The evil of such a system was seen in the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and racist Democrat courts in Dixie during the era of segregation and in innumerable authoritarian courts around the world. It is vigilante justice – meaning that the political and social mood of the time produces spleen-vented street justice. It makes the court-of-public-opinion superior to our court-of-law. It creates what we often call “kangaroo courts.”
So, what about Ms. Carroll?
Because of the sensitivity and volatility of this subject, I spent a fair amount of time researching and evaluating the facts as they have been presented – and some that have not been aired. I have come to my own personal conclusion. I do not believe her.
It is not just a matter of inability to produce facts – although that is important. Just because she cannot prove it does not mean it did not happen. I understand that. However, her background and the entire way this has rolled out has the odor of … well, you know … bovine poop. Allow me to explain.
Carroll’s article in New York Magazine comes – not so coincidentally – at the time of the publication of her book. There is no better way to pump up what may have been mediocre anticipated sales. To further sensationalize her story, she is pictured on the cover of the magazine wearing the same outfit – not a duplicate or similar– but the actual outfit she claims to have been wearing when assaulted. She still has it after 25 years? I know, anything is possible – but there is more.
Carroll has established a reputation of a man-hater. I do not say that as a mindless insult. First, you should know that her book is titled, “What do we need men for?” In fact, much of her writing deals with the relationship between men and women – and generally unflatteringly of the men. Her biography on Wikipedia states that she became known for “her insistence that women should ‘never never’ structure their lives around men,” The never-married Carroll apparently takes her own advice.
Carroll is part of the New York Democrat media establishment who hates Trump. Getting publicity for her book and damaging Trump is a two-fer for her.
Then there is the matter of time. Carroll waited for 25 years to make her accusations public. She did not go to the police at the time. She did not make her accusations during the height of the #MeToo Movement, when women across the nation were revealing stories from their pasts. I have no doubt that the vast majority of them were true.
Carroll said that her “encounter” with Trump happened in late 1995 or early 1996. I find it hard to believe that the more specific time of such monumental and emotional event would be lost in her memory. Maybe not the exact day, but not even the exact year? She cannot recall if it happened before, during or after Christmas? That kind of association is usually an indelible marker.
In her magazine article, Carroll wrote that they recognized each other in the store – her as the famous advice columnist and him as the real estate tycoon. He wanted a gift for a lady and asked her advice. She recommended a hat or a purse. She claims that Trump “steered” her to the lingerie department of the high-end store.
She then alleges Trump wanted her to try on some of the intimate apparel. Apparently, Trump forcibly pushed her into the dressing room where he sexually assaulted (essentially raped) her. By her account, she was able to finally push him off and escape from the dressing room.
I find it strange that the action she described would not have been noticed by other shoppers or store personnel. Stores like Bergdorf Goodman usually have cameras – and dressing rooms are particularly watched. Didn’t she yell out? If not, why not? This was a highly public place. One scream and the entire event would have been over. Carroll’s story has more holes than my grandmother’s colander.
She claims to have told two friends, who folks in the media described as witnesses. Sorry, they witnessed nothing. One advised going to the police and the other against because Trump would confront her with a cadre of attorneys. At the time of this writing, the friends have not been identified or come forward.
Carroll loses more credibility with her colorful and highly improbable account of being sexually assaulted in an elevator by former CBS CEO Les Moonves. In her book, she wrote:
“He steps into the elevator behind me, and his pants bursting with demands, goes at me like an octopus. I don’t know how many apertures and openings you possess, Reader, but Moonves, with his arms squirming and poking and goosing and scooping and pricking and prodding and jabbing, is looking for fissures I don’t even know I own, and — by God! — I am not certain that even if I pull off one of his arms it won’t crawl after me and attack me in my hotel bed. Hell, I am thrilled I escape before he expels his ink.”
And again, it goes unreported – and in this case, she does not even indicate she shared this incident with friends.
Moonves may be a very bad character, but would he have expected – or she have expected – that he was going to consummate the sexual act before the elevator doors opened again. This woman has a propensity for being attacked in the most unlikely public places – and don’t most elevators have cameras? Will we soon hear about another one on the ice rink in Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holidays? How about in the observation tower of the new Trade Tower? Sorry, all this sound like fodder for book sales as opposed to a real exposé.
We should also admit that there is fame and fortune in leveling accusations against prominent individuals. Because of their public image, they are more likely to settle the issue “quietly” whether true or not. It is also true that people who are deemed to be public figures have limited ability to take accusers to court. I suspect Carroll knows that.
Though Carroll has no problem in making a public accusation, she has zero desire to take the case to court even today – and we should be reminded that there is no statute of limitation on sexual assault in New York. She explained her reluctance to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell by saying it would be “disrespectful” to make focus on her. She said:
“I would find it disrespectful to the women who are down on the border who are being raped around the clock, down there without any protection. They’re young women… It would just be disrespectful if I – you know – and mine was three minutes. I’m a mature woman. I can handle it. I can keep going. My life has gone on. I’m a happy woman.”
In the same interview, Carroll painted a completely different description of her life since that alleged incident. She claimed to still be “struggling” with feelings of responsibility. “I still can’t kick the feeling that it was my fault. I can’t. It’s hard to get rid of that,” she told O’Donnell.
A number of anti-Trump panelists on MSNBC expressed concern that the public would not believe her. I think they are correct. Sitting at my computer, I cannot definitively say whether Carroll is telling the truth or not. I can say that if I was on a jury hearing this case, I would not find her credible.
So, there ‘tis.
Editor’s note: We almost pulled this story because Carroll’s accusations are so obviously fraudulent, self serving Trump hate speech, the worst kind of political garbage. It is even worse, in our opinion, than the Jussie Smollet case, and she does not deserve even an acknowledgement.
However, Larry Horist is one of our most respected writers and his opinion carries weight. He felt that the issue needed to be addressed so that our readers have complete information here at Punching Bag Post, and not out on the streets where they will get wrong information.
So (stealing Larry’s trademark) … there ’tis.