A former columnist suing Donald Trump over an alleged rape nearly 30 years ago has testified she launched the case “to try and get my life back”.

E Jean Carroll told the New York civil rape and defamation trial she had been unable to have a romantic life since the alleged assault.

Ms. Carroll claims Mr. Trump accosted her in a Manhattan department store in 1996.

He has consistently denied her accusations as “fiction”.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he lied and said it didn’t happen,” Ms. Carroll told a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”

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Ms. Carroll, a former advice columnist for Elle magazine, testified that the encounter with Mr. Trump initially began with flirtatious banter after he approached her at the Bergdorf Goodman store and asked if she would help him buy a gift for a friend.

She said the banter quickly took a turn when Mr. Trump asked her to try on a piece of lingerie and followed her into a dressing room.

Once inside, she claimed, he closed the door, held her against the wall, and raped her.

“As I’m sitting here today I can still feel it,” she told the court.

She tried to push Mr. Trump off, saying it was clear she didn’t want it to happen, she said. The “extremely painful” encounter was over within minutes, she said, and she quickly left the department store.

In the years since she has felt guilty about her decision to enter the dressing room, Ms. Caroll said on Wednesday.

Ms. Carroll said she told two friends about the attack, who gave conflicting advice about whether she should go public with her story.

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In his questioning, Ms. Carroll’s lawyer seemed to anticipate questions she may face from Mr. Trump’s team, including whether she was motivated to sue the former president for political reasons. Ms. Carroll, who has voted only for Democratic candidates, said she was not.

Mr. Trump, who is running in the 2024 presidential election, has repeatedly denied her allegations.

On Wednesday, in a series of posts on his social media website, he called the account a “fraudulent and false story” and called it into question.

“She didn’t scream? There are no witnesses? Nobody saw this?” he wrote.

Mr. Trump’s post was brought to the attention of US District Judge Lewis Kaplan before witnesses took the stand.

The judge admonished Mr. Trump’s legal team for their client’s behaviour and said the post was “a public statement that, on the face of it, seems entirely inappropriate”.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told the judge he would ask his client to “refrain from any further posts on this case”.

As of Wednesday, it was not immediately clear if the former president planned to appear in court in the case, which is expected to last two weeks.

Ms. Carroll, 79, will return to the stand on Thursday, where she will likely face cross-examination.

She is seeking unspecified damages from Mr Trump, 76.

In 2022, New York passed the Adult Survivors Act, which allowed a one-year period for victims to file sexual assault lawsuits in the state over claims that would have otherwise exceeded statute limitations.

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