NEW YORK — A veteran New York lifestyle journalist says in a first-person essay published Friday that Donald Trump raped her in a dressing room at a ritzy Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s — one of the most serious accusations of sexual assault ever lobbed against the president.
E. Jean Carroll — best known for hosting a namesake talk show on NBC between 1994 and 1996 and penning a popular advice column for Elle — had the essay published in New York magazine.
Carroll, now 75, said the alleged rape took place in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996 while she was shopping at Bergdorf Goodman in Midtown.
Trump — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 19 women and has bragged on tape about his inclination to grab women by the genitals — vehemently denied Carroll's allegations in a rare first-person statement and claimed he has "never met" her.
But a photograph included in Carroll's essay shows her with Trump at a party in 1987.
"Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda," Trump said. "It's just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence."
The president misleadingly praised Bergdorf Goodman for confirming "they have no video footage of any such incident, because it never happened."
In her essay, Carroll said the luxe department store had informed her it no longer has tapes from that time period. Contrary to Trump's claim, Bergdorf Goodman did not say the tapes in question never existed, according to Carroll.
While a number of women have accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault, Carroll is first to accuse him of rape. Trump's first wife, Ivana, alleged he raped her in the late 1980s, but later recanted the allegation and said she had not meant rape in the "criminal sense."
At the time of the rape alleged by Carroll, Trump was a high-rolling Manhattan real estate mogul on his second marriage to actress Marla Maples.
According to Carroll, Trump approached her as she was walking out of Bergdorf Goodman and asked if she could stick around to give him advice on a present he was getting for "a girl."
Carroll says she was "charmed" by the request and strolled through the store with Trump. She writes they sifted through clothes and other items until Trump suggested they check out the lingerie section.
Trump quickly set his eyes on a lilac-colored "see-through bodysuit," according to Carroll.
"Go try this on!" Trump allegedly told her.
Carroll, saying she in hindsight feels embarrassed by her "stupidity," writes that she agreed to because it was going to be "hilarious," so they headed to the dressing rooms.
Carroll says what happened next left her with mental scars for the rest of her life.
"The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips," Carroll writes.
"I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights."
Carroll says "a colossal struggle" ensued.
"Still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I'm not certain — inside me," Carroll writes.
Carroll says she panicked, managed to "get a knee up" and push him out.
"I turn, open the door, and run out," she writes.
Carroll alleges the "whole episode" was over within three minutes.
"I run through the store and out the door — I don't recall which door — and find myself outside on Fifth Avenue," she writes.
Carroll says she told two friends of what allegedly happened 23 or 24 years ago, but never reported it to police. Both friends corroborated Carroll's claim to New York magazine.
Carroll says she has never fully recovered from the incident.
"Whether it's my age, the fact that I haven't met anyone fascinating enough over the past couple of decades to feel 'the sap rising,' as Tom Wolfe put it, or if it's the blot of the real-estate tycoon, I can't say," she writes. "But I have never had sex with anybody ever again."