Judge to Trump: Too late to offer DNA to rebut rape claim

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse on Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. Trumps lawyer said Friday, Feb. 10, that the former president is willing to provide a DNA sample to be compared with stains on the dress of a woman who accused him of raping her over a quarter century ago in a department store dressing room. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Former President Donald Trump missed his chance to use his DNA to try to prove he didn’t rape a longtime magazine advice columnist, a federal judge said Wednesday, clearing away a potential roadblock to an April trial.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected the 11th-hour offer by Trump’s legal team to provide a DNA sample to rebut claims E. Jean Carroll first made publicly in a 2019 book.

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Kaplan said that lawyers for Trump and Carroll had over three years to make DNA an issue in the case and that both chose not to do so.

He said it would almost surely delay the trial scheduled to start April 25 to reopen the DNA issue four months after the deadline passed to litigate concerns over trial evidence and just weeks before trial.

Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, declined comment on the ruling. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, also declined to comment.

Carroll's lawyers have sought Trump's DNA sample for three years to compare it with stains found on the dress Carroll wore the day she says Trump raped her in an upscale Manhattan department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996. An analysis of DNA on the dress concluded it did contain traces of an unknown man's DNA.

Trump has denied knowing Carroll and said repeatedly, and sometimes angrily, that he never raped Carroll and that she was making the claim to stoke sales of her book.

After refusing to provide Trump's DNA sample, his lawyers recently switched tactics, saying they would provide his DNA if Carroll's lawyers turned over the full DNA report on the dress.

Kaplan wrote in an order that Trump had provided no persuasive reason to relieve him of the consequences of his failure to seek the full DNA report in a timely fashion.

And the judge noted that the report did not find evidence of sperm cells and that reopening the dispute would raise a “complicated new subject into this case that both sides elected not to pursue over a period of years.”

He said that a positive match of Trump's DNA to that on the dress would prove only that there had been an encounter between Trump and Carroll on a day when she wore the dress, but that it would not prove or disprove that a rape occurred and might prove entirely inconclusive.

Kaplan added: “His conditional invitation to open a door that he kept closed for years threatens to change the nature of a trial for which both parties now have been preparing for years. Whether Mr. Trump's application is intended for a dilatory purpose or not, the potential prejudice to Ms. Carroll is apparent."

The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.

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