In late April 2016, rumors began to circulate online holding that Republican presidential Donald Trump had either been sued over, or arrested for, raping a teenaged girl. One of the earliest versions of the rumor was published on 2 May 2016 by the Winning Democrats web site, which reported that woman using the name Katie Johnson had named Trump and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in a $100 million lawsuit, accusing them of having solicited sex acts from her at sex parties held at the Manhattan homes of Epstein and Trump back in 1994 (when Johnson was just 13 years old):
The first major scandal to hit the Trump campaign besides the typical “what a racist, such a sexist, yada yada yada,” came from a lawsuit stemming from the infamous sex parties held by billionaire and known pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The woman named in the suit is Katie Johnson, who says Trump took her virginity in 1994 when she was only 13 and being held by Epstein as a slave.
Johnson says in the complaint that Trump and Epstein threatened her and her family with bodily harm if she didn’t comply with all of their disgusting demands. The Trump campaign has been on this immediately, calling it absolute nonsense and not even remotely true or possible.
Many aggregated reports cited a 28 April 2016 article that described the circumstances under which the lawsuit had been filed:
Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is fighting what could be the biggest election season bombshell yet — explosive court claims that he raped a woman when she was a teen.
The woman — identified as Katie Johnson — filed documents in a California court on April 26, accusing Trump and billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein of “sexual abuse under threat of harm” and “conspiracy to deprive civil rights,” RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.
She filed the lawsuit herself — without legal representation — and is suing for $100 million.
A copy of the California lawsuit (filed on 26 April 2016) shared via the Scribd web site outlined the allegations, which included the accusation that Trump and Epstein had (over 20 years earlier) "sexually and physically" abused the then 13-year-old plaintiff and forced her "to engage in various perverted and depraved sex acts" — including being “forced to manually stimulate Defendant Trump with the use of her hand upon Defendant Trump’s erect penis until he reached sexual orgasm,” and being “forced to engage in an unnatural lesbian sex act with her fellow minor and sex slave, Maria Doe, age 12, for the sexual enjoyment of Defendant Trump” — after luring her to a "series of underage sex parties" by promising her "money and a modeling career":
According to RadarOnline's initial reporting, the lawsuit filed in California on 26 April 2016 was dismissed over technical filing errors (the address listed in court documents was a foreclosed home that has been vacant since its owner died), with the plaintiff failing in her attempt to avoid incurring the cost of the litigation:
A judge recommended on April 29 that “Katie Johnson” should have to pay her own attorneys’ fees and court costs related to the $100 million lawsuit she brought against Trump and billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein over alleged sexual assault charges. Then on May 2, a U.S. District judge ordered the entire lawsuit thrown out.
“Johnson” had previously filed forms asking to be let off the hook for the costs of the lawsuit, claiming she had only $300 to her name ... such an allowance — known as in forma paupers — is only given in civil rights cases in California, and the judge ruled that she “failed to state a claim for relief” on a civil rights basis, even though she “utilized the form provided by the Central District of California for civil actions.”
“Even construing the ... pleading liberally, Plaintiff has not alleged any race-based or class-based animus against her, and consequently, her ... allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” the judge wrote ... the address listed on the paperwork leads to an abandoned property, and the phone number goes straight to voicemail.
For his part, Trump asserted that the charges were “not only categorically false, but disgusting at the highest level and clearly framed to solicit media attention or, perhaps, are simply politically motivated,” adding that “There is absolutely no merit to these allegations. Period."
On 20 June 2016, New York City-based blog Gothamist reported that the plaintiff had refiled a similar complaint in a New York State federal court:
A federal lawsuit filed in New York accuses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl more than 20 years ago, at several Upper East Side parties hosted by convicted sex offender and notorious billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein.
The suit, first reported by the Real Deal, accuses Trump and Epstein of luring the anonymous plaintiff and other young women to four parties at Epstein's so-called Wexner Mansion at 9 East 71st Street. Epstein allegedly lured the plaintiff, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, with promises of a modeling career and cash.
Another anonymous woman, identified in additional testimony as Tiffany Doe, corroborates Jane's allegations, testifying that she met Epstein at Port Authority, where he hired her to recruit other young girls for his parties. Trump had known Epstein for seven years in 1994 when he attended the parties at Wexner, according to the suit. He also allegedly knew that the plaintiff was 13 years old.
Jane Doe filed a similar suit in California in April, under the name Katie Johnson, also accusing Trump and Epstein of rape. That suit was dismissed on the grounds of improper paperwork — the address affiliated with her name was found to be abandoned. Today's suit confirms that the plaintiffs are one and the same.
The online outlet that first reported the second filing in New York explained that the lawsuit might be allowed to proceed even though the statute of limitations for bringing suit has expired, because (according to plaintiff's lawyer) the plaintiff lacked the "freedom of will to institute suit earlier in time" due to her having been threatened by Trump:
It should be noted that anyone can file a civil complaint in federal court. The statute of limitations in New York for civil rape cases is five years, but [the] complaint argues that the time limit should be waived, noting that the plaintiff was too frightened to report the abuse because Trump had threatened that if she did “her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”
“Both defendants let plaintiff know that each was a very wealthy, powerful man and indicated that they had the power, ability and means to carry out their threats,” the complaint claims.
A copy of the New York-based suit was also uploaded to Scribd, and in the second filing (which asked for no specific amount of monetary damages) the plaintiff was represented by Thomas Francis Meagher, a New Jersey patent lawyer who learned of her allegations via an article published on the GossipExtra web site advertising that she was "shopping for an attorney." In a statement attached to her filing, the plaintiff (aka "Jane Doe") asserted:
I traveled by bus to New York City in June 1994 in the hope of starting a modeling career. I went to several modeling agencies but was told that I needed to put together a modeling portfolio before I would be considered. I then went to the Port Authority in New York City to start to make my way back home. There I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Tiffany. She told me about the parties and said that, if I would join her at the parties, I would be introduced to people who could get me into the modeling profession. Tiffany also told me I would be paid for attending.
The parties were held at a New York City residence that was being used by Defendant Jeffrey Epstein. Each of the parties had other minor females and a number of guests of Mr. Epstein, including Defendant Donald Trump at four of the parties I attended. I understood that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew I was 13 years old.
Defendant Trump had sexual contact with me at four different parties in the summer of 1994. On the fourth and fnial sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied me to a bed, exposed himself to me, and then proceeded to forcibly rape me. During the course of this savage sexual attack, I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but he did not. Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted,
Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump's sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I wold be physically harmed if not killed.
The filing also included a statement from "Tiffany Doe" (i.e., the woman referenced in plaintiff's statement above who brought her to the parties) attesting that:
I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.
I personally witnessed the one occasion where Mr. Trump forced the Plaintiff and a 12-year-old female named Maria [to] perform oral sex on Mr. Trump and witnessed his physical abuse of both minors when they finished the act.
It was my job to personally witness and supervise encounters between the underage girls that Mr. Epstein hired and his guests.
A video reportedly featuring "Katie Johnson" (her identity hidden through the use of facial pixillation, a long blonde wig, and an electronic voice distorter) appeared online, in which she graphically described giving Donald Trump a hand job and being raped by him:
There is little doubt that Donald Trump knew Jeffrey Epstein, as Trump acknowledged in a 2002 New York magazine profile of Epstein:
Epstein likes to tell people that he's a loner, a man who's never touched alcohol or drugs, and one whose nightlife is far from energetic. And yet if you talk to Donald Trump, a different Epstein emerges. "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,'' Trump booms from a speakerphone. "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. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Epstein had been named in multiple similar lawsuits over the previous several years, served 13 months in jail, and was registered as a sex offender for life:
Billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has paid another accuser.
The 56-year-old money manager has quietly settled with Jane Doe 102, an unnamed woman who alleged in federal court in Florida that Epstein had induced her to "serve his every sexual whim" from the time she was 15 until she was 19. The woman also claimed Epstein had flown her around the world, paying her "to be sexually exploited by [his friends] ... including royalty, politicians, academicians [and] businessmen."
Epstein flatly denied those charges. But a source close to the financier confirms "the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties." The woman's lawyer, Robert Josefsberg, wouldn't say how much she's getting. Epstein had in the past offered accusers a minimum of $150,000.
Epstein has settled at least two other civil suits but still faces more than a dozen from women who claim he sexually abused them as minors at his Palm Beach mansion.
As of now, all of the information about this lawsuit comes solely from the complaint filed by "Katie Johnson," and no one has as yet located, identified, or interviewed her. She was scheduled to appear at a press conference on 2 November 2016 but didn't show up, asserting that threats to her life kept her away. She reportedly dropped the lawsuit again on 4 November 2016 for the same reason.