Today, writer E. Jean Carroll goes to court in a unique case: she accused the sitting president of defamation. But when she came forward in 2019 to say Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, her story started with a familiar detail.
"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," she wrote in June 2019.
Former model Amy Dorris, the latest to come forward just last month to allege that Trump had sexually assaulted her in 1997 at the US Open tennis tournament, said it began in a similar way.
“He just grabbed me. And he just shoved his tongue down my throat,” Dorris told the Guardian. “His grip was hard, you know, you couldn’t pull away.”
Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis said Dorris' claim was "totally false" and an attempt to attack Trump before the election.
Thirteen of the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or non-consensual physical contact said he kissed them without consent, often out of the blue, sometimes holding them firmly in place.
Another reason the scene is familiar: It’s how Trump himself described his approach to women in a 2005 recording of what he thought was a private conversation, released in 2016.
“You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” he said in the now-infamous Access Hollywood recording. “It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait.”
Carroll brought a defamation case against Trump after he allegedly slandered her in denying her claims. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice attempted to intervene in the case by putting the federal government, rather than Trump himself, in the position of defendant.
Today, oral arguments begin between Carroll's attorneys and the Justice Department to consider whether the DOJ can move forward.
In their own words, here is how Carroll and other women describe their encounters with Trump:
A USA TODAY review of 19 women's allegations — the number who allege non-consensual physical contact — as well as more than 4,000 words that Trump has spoken, tweeted or released in written statements since 2016 addressing their allegations, show patterns in both the allegations and Trump's reactions to them.
Patterns in the behavior of alleged sexual abusers may be used by prosecutors to try to lay out a modus operandi, or "something about the way a defendant operates that is akin to a signature," said Deborah Tuerkheimer, professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and a former assistant district attorney in New York, speaking generally.
"How do you show that a person has, let's just say, a sense of entitlement that leads him to just take what he thinks he deserves? Is that something that can be reflected in multiple instances of misconduct?" she said. "Some sexual predators who engage in patterned behavior have certain things that they say repeatedly or often. Sometimes they do the same kinds of things, so there's a particular interest in a body part or a preoccupation with doing something in a certain way."
In the case of Trump, the Access Hollywood tape is unique in that it is "a shining example of the kind of words that could be used to help explain what's going on in someone's head," Tuerkheimer said.
"It is really uncommon ... to have the man accused provide a window into his thinking, where you actually get a statement that reflects a particular view of, be it women or be it an entitlement to women's bodies," she said.
However, Trump is not on trial for sexual assault, as Carroll's case is for defamation.
Carroll is the only one of the 19 women to accuse Trump of rape, although his first wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of marital rape in a 1990 deposition. Trump denied it and she later said she did not mean it in a criminal sense. Jill Harth, a makeup artist who, along with a male associate, had a business relationship with Trump, accused Trump of attempted rape in a 1997 lawsuit which she withdrew from court, though she said in 2016 she stood by her claims.
From 2005 to early 2007, there were seven incidents when women alleged Trump sexually attacked or forcibly touched them. That’s at the very start of his marriage to model Melania Trump, and it’s in the early – and peak ratings years – of Trump’s hit television show, "The Apprentice."
It’s also in the immediate wake of when the Access Hollywood tape was recorded.
Two of the allegations took place in July 2006 — the same month Trump had his affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels, who received a $130,000 payment just before the 2016 election by the president’s former lawyer and signed a nondisclosure agreement about the affair. It is now part of a larger investigation into Trump's finances.
That same weekend, Jessica Drake said, Trump kissed her without permission and offered to pay her for sex. Ninni Laaksonen, the former Miss Finland, said that he grabbed her butt that same month before an appearance on the David Letterman show.
Though our analysis focused on 19 women who alleged physical contact, more women have alleged other inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature from Trump, including a number of participants in pageants he owned like former Miss North Carolina Samantha Holvey, who said he made her feel "like a piece of meat." And former Miss Teen Vermont Mariah Billado and former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon who both say Trump entered dressing rooms unannounced while young women were topless or naked.
Trump's own comments about "inspecting" Miss USA contestants and claims he would touch them, Tuerkheimer said, are an example of entitlement that "can lead to an inference that a person is more willing to just touch, just grab, just grope, just kiss."
dents of groping took place in Trump's daughter Ivanka's bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.