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Trump's DNA will not be used in suit by writer who accused him of rape, judge rules

The judge denied an eleventh-hour bid by the former president's lawyers to possibly make his DNA an issue in the case.
E. Jean Carroll at her home in New York state on June 21, 2019.
E. Jean Carroll at her home in New York state on June 21, 2019.Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Former President Donald Trump's DNA will not be used as evidence in the civil suit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who alleges Trump raped her in a New York City department store in the 1990s, the judge presiding over the case said Wednesday.

In a 21-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said that the time for new evidence in the case had passed and that the matter will proceed to trial without a sample of Trump's DNA.

Carroll’s lawyers first asked Trump to turn over a sample of his DNA in January 2020 to see whether his genetic material was on a dress she said she wore during the alleged encounter. The request was to be used for “analysis and comparison against unidentified male DNA present on the dress,” they said.

Trump's attorneys repeatedly rejected the requests, arguing in court filings that Carroll had "not demonstrated a reasonable basis for such an intrusive request."

"Further, the request is highly prejudicial given chain of custody concerns and violates defendant’s privacy rights, which are especially sensitive given that he is a former president," Trump lawyer Alina Habba contended last year.

Trump's new attorney, Joe Tacopina, revived the issue in a letter to Kaplan last week, offering to turn over a sample of Trump's DNA to Carroll's lawyers if they first turned over more information from a report on the DNA that was found on the dress.

Kaplan rejected that proposal in his ruling Wednesday, noting that it came well after both sides had submitted all their evidence in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in April.

"There is no justification for such a deal," Kaplan wrote, noting that Carroll had turned over the DNA report more than three years ago. If Trump's attorneys wanted information from the appendix that was not included in the report, they should have asked long before now.

The "effort comes too late," Kaplan found. But he also said Carroll would not be entitled to a DNA sample from Trump.

"Her counsel have had plenty of opportunities" to "move to compel Mr. Trump to submit a DNA sample," he said. "Had they done so, they almost certainly would have gotten it."

"They obviously decided to go to trial without it," he added.

Kaplan also questioned how worthwhile the evidence would be, noting there is no evidence of any sperm cells on the dress. So even if there were a match, "it would not prove or disprove Ms. Carroll's rape allegation," he said. And if there were no match, it "would not disprove Ms. Carroll's accusation."

"The alleged rape could have occurred without a sufficient quantity or quality of Mr. Trump's DNA to have remained on the dress since the mid-1990s," he noted.

Trump has denied attacking Carroll, who is 79, and called her a "whack job" who's "not my type" in his deposition in the case — although he also confused her for ex-wife Marla Maples when he was shown a 1990s photo of Carroll during the deposition, according to court documents.

Attorneys for Trump and Carroll declined to comment on Wednesday's ruling.

In a letter to the judge last week, Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, called Trump's eleventh-hour offer to turn over his DNA "another bad faith and legally frivolous delay tactic."

She noted that previous attempts to get Trump's DNA were delayed by his appeals over other issues that slowed the case to a crawl and said his team made a strategic decision to proceed without it.

Carroll was "faced with a choice: almost three years into the litigation, she could engage in a protracted fight over an unprecedented request to obtain a former president’s DNA — a request that Trump had repeatedly resisted, vowed to continue resisting, and would inevitably turn into a substantial issue in this court" and with subsequent appeals, the letter said. "Or she could pivot, take Trump’s deposition, and work toward the trial date that the court had already set, armed with the overwhelming evidence already available to her.

"She elected the latter course so that she might prove her case without further delay — a goal that was especially important in light of Trump’s demonstrated pattern of exploding court deadlines and escaping accountability," the letter continued.