Trump must face a defamation lawsuit over Summer Zervos sexual assault claims, court rules

  • A former contestant on The Apprentice who says she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump, can sue him for defamation after he branded her a liar, New York’s Court of Appeals has ruled.
  • The suit was delayed after Trump filed an appeal saying that a sitting president could not be sued.
  • The court found the issue was now “moot” since Trump has already left office.
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A New York court has ruled that a former contestant on “The Apprentice” can sue Donald Trump for defamation after he called her a liar for alleging that he had sexually assaulted her.

The New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that Summer Zervos can file a defamation lawsuit against the former president which she originally filed in 2017. 

The case had been paused after Trump filed an appeal saying that a sitting president could not be sued but, with Trump having left office, the court found that “the issues presented have become moot,” Reuters reported.

The case will now be heard in a Manhattan trial court where Zervos’s lawyers will be able to question Trump under oath, Reuters reported.

Zervos initially filed the defamation lawsuit against Trump, who was then president, in 2017.

She claimed that Trump kissed her against her will in 2007 after she appeared on The Apprentice, and claimed Trump later groped her in a California hotel. Trump was the host of the NBC show.

Zervos is one of 26 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, with allegations stretching back to the 1970s, Insider’s Eliza Relman reported. Trump called his accusers liars, prompting Zervos’s lawsuit.

Trump in 2017 moved to have the case dismissed on the grounds that state courts couldn’t prosecute a sitting president, Insider’s Jacob Shamsian and Jack Newsham reported. 

While lower state courts rejected the argument, New York’s top state court paused the case in March 2020.

Attorneys for Devos in February also noted in their application to the Court of Appeals that Trump had not opposed the motion from Zervos to move the trial forward.

Trump is facing numerous other civil and criminal investigations and lawsuits since he has left office. 

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.

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