The release last week of the recording of Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” about grabbing women by the crotch has put the candidate’s record of sexual assault accusations under renewed scrutiny. Over the years, several women have accused him of groping and kissing them without consent, and in a case that has a Princeton connection, of raping a teenage girl. Trump has denied all the allegations.
A Palmer Square-based patent lawyer is representing a woman who has filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of raping her in 1994, when she was 13 years old. The woman accuses Trump of having sex with her on four occasions, once holding her down, hitting her, and threatening her with retaliation if she told anyone.
Thomas Meagher, a managing partner at Meagher Emanuel Laks Goldberg & Liao at 1 Palmer Square, filed the suit in June on behalf of a plaintiff using the pseudonym Jane Doe. The same client filed a lawsuit in California the previous year, representing herself under the name Katie Johnson. A judge tossed that case for failing to make a claim under California’s civil rights law.
Despite the failure of the suit, it attracted some media attention, and eventually caught the eye of Meagher, who when reached by phone this week at his office declined to comment.
Meagher, an experienced litigator, has represented Princeton University and other high-profile clients in patent cases but told reporters that he has never taken this kind of case before. He told the website revelist.com that he read about Katie Johnson’s ill-fated pro se lawsuit on a gossip website and felt compelled to reach out to her and provide her with representation on his own, without the help of his firm. On October 10, Meagher got the help of an experienced criminal lawyer when Cheney Mason, best known for successfully defending Casey Anthony in a highly publicized child murder trial, signed on to the case.
Meagher filed the lawsuit on June 20 in the southern district of New York and re-filed it 10 days later with additional information. An initial conference in the case is scheduled for December 16.
In the court filing, Doe says she attended several parties at the Manhattan home of Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire who pled guilty to soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008. The suit says Epstein and Trump were friends at the time, and cites press accounts including an interview that Trump gave to New York Magazine in 2002, in which he said: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” (Epstein traveled in high-powered circles, and has been associated with numerous politicians and celebrities who attended his parties, including Bill Clinton.)
The suit alleges that Trump forced himself on the young girl: “On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”
In the suit, Doe says Epstein and Trump told her afterwards that they could have her whole family killed and that she could be “disappeared” like a 12-year-old girl from another incident.
After the first lawsuit was filed, Trump released a statement denying the accusations: “The allegations are not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated. There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. Period.”
The son of a patent attorney and a stay-at-home mom, Meagher was born and raised in Princeton and earned a bachelor’s in engineering at Carnegie Mellon and a law degree from Catholic University of America.
Meagher was a founder of the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, and was on the board of the Saint Ann School in Lawrenceville. He also served as a Republican councilman in Lawrence between 1994 and 1997, and was on the zoning board in the 1980s. On December 12, 2007, Meagher appeared in the pages of U.S. 1 in a story about a charity album he produced, “A Princeton Christmas: For the Children of Africa.”