Former US president Trump to challenge New York sex abuse law as unconstitutional

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Former President Donald Trump is planning to argue that a New York law temporarily allowing people to sue over alleged sexual abuse that may have occurred decades earlier is unconstitutional.

A lawyer for Trump said Wednesday during a federal court hearing in Manhattan that the argument would be included in a motion to dismiss a November 24 lawsuit by New York author E. Jean Carroll. She sued him for battery under the state’s new Adult Survivors Act, which lifts for one year the statute of limitations on sexual-assault claims that would otherwise be barred as too old.

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Carroll claims Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s. He has denied her allegations.

Trump’s would be among the first constitutional challenges to the new law, which took effect the same day Carroll sued.

His lawyer, Michael Madaio, didn’t provide details on his planned argument on Wednesday, but critics of the law have said it potentially deprives defendants of their right to due process because older claims with older evidence are more difficult to defend.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled later Wednesday that if the case survives Trump’s motion to dismiss it will go to trial April 17. That is much sooner than had been requested by the former president, who is facing mounting legal woes as he seeks a return to the White House in 2024.

Legal experts are predicting a torrent of lawsuits against accused abusers under the New York statute, as well as companies that may have turned a blind eye to their conduct.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan declined to comment.

#MeToo Change

Until 2019, the statute of limitations for many sexual-abuse claims in New York was just one year. In response to the #MeToo movement, state lawmakers extended it to 20 years, but that change wasn’t retroactive. The Adult Survivors Act was intended to fill that gap.

New York lawyer Zoe Salzman, who specializes in harassment cases, noted that an earlier state law that similarly lifted the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse survived a number of constitutional challenges.

“The Adult Survivors Act is closely modeled on the Child Victims Act and seeks to address the same kind of injustice, namely the many social, psychological, and other deterrents that make it difficult for survivors of sexual assault (both children and adults) to come forward and seek justice,” said Salzman, who isn’t involved in the Trump case.

“I expect that Trump’s challenge, and any similar arguments by others, about the constitutionality of the Adult Survivor Act, will be similarly rejected by the courts,” Salzman said.

Carroll initially sued Trump for defamation after he denied her claims and made disparaging comments about her in 2019. That case is set for trial April 10, but Carroll is seeking to combine her two suits against Trump for a joint trial.

The defamation case is Carroll v. Trump, 22-cv-10016, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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