The Controversy Over a Lawsuit Accusing Trump of Raping a 13-year-old Girl, explained

Trump really is facing a lawsuit for child rape. But the anonymous plaintiff has been elusive, and the circumstances around the lawsuit are bizarre.

Fifteen women have now gone on record to say that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them. Out of all of their stories, one is the most explosive and bizarre — a woman who says Trump violently raped her at an orgy when she was just 13 years old. But the horrific details of her accusation have gotten the least attention.

It seemed like that was all going to change yesterday, when the woman, who has gone by the pseudonyms “Katie Johnson” and “Jane Doe,” was set to appear at a press conference at the law offices of Lisa Bloom, a high-profile civil rights attorney and TV commentator. But the woman didn’t come to the press conference. Bloom told a room full of waiting reporters that Johnson was afraid to show her face after receiving multiple death threats, and that they would have to reschedule.

It’s certainly not uncommon for victims of sexual assault to want to preserve their anonymity. But the canceled press conference was the latest strange development in a very strange case. That case features an anonymous plaintiff who has refused almost all requests for interviews, two anonymous corroborating witnesses whom no one in the press has spoken to, and a couple of seriously shady characters — with an anti-Trump agenda and a penchant for drama — who have aggressively shopped the story around to media outlets for over a year.cwruhkmw8aaqdqp

Those shady characters — a former reality TV producer who calls himself “Al Taylor” and a “Never Trump” conservative activist named Steve Baer — have been mostly unsuccessful in getting the media to bite. There are a few very good reasons for that, which the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim succinctly summed up: Taylor and Baer have been really sketchy about the whole thing, and since the accuser is anonymous, journalists can’t do anything to verify her claims. The only journalist who has actually interviewed Johnson, Emily Shugerman at Revelist, came away confused and even doubting whether Johnson really exists.

Since a tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault came out in early October, a dozen named women have come forward with credible, similar-sounding allegations of Trump forcibly kissing or groping them in exactly the way he described on that tape. Johnson’s case is an outlier, with far more salacious allegations from a source that seems far less credible.

At the same time, Trump will have to answer those allegations in front of a judge on December 16. And hearing about the case now could influence how voters are thinking about him.

The lawsuit makes horrifying allegations against both Trump and celebrity pedophile Jeffrey Epstein

Donald Trump Campaigns In Jacksonville, FloridaPhoto by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Johnson claims that Trump violently raped her when she was 13 at a 1994 orgy hosted by Jeffrey Epstein — the billionaire who was convicted in 2008 of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution and has been accused of having sex with more than 30 underage girls.

Johnson’s lawsuit mentions Trump’s friendship with Epstein, and a comment Trump made in 2002 about their respective tastes in women: “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.”

The lawsuit alleges a number of charges against both Trump and Epstein, including rape, sexual abuse, assault and battery, and false imprisonment. Johnson says that when she was 13, Epstein lured her to parties at his apartment by promising “money and a modeling career.”

Johnson says Trump had sexual contact with her at four of those parties, including tying her to a bed and violently raping her in a “savage sexual attack.” The lawsuit says Johnson “loudly pleaded” with Trump to stop, but that he responded by “violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”

After that, Trump allegedly threatened to harm or kill Johnson and her family if she ever told anyone. Johnson says Trump told her he could make them “disappear” like Maria, a 12-year-old girl Johnson says Trump also forced her to have sexual contact with, and whom Johnson hadn’t seen since that encounter.

Johnson also accuses Epstein of raping her “anally and vaginally despite her loud pleas to stop,” and that he “attempted to strike Plaintiff about the head with his closed fists while he angrily screamed that he, Defendant Epstein, rather than Defendant Trump, should have been the one who took Plaintiff’s virginity.”

The court filings also included a statement from “Tiffany Doe,” another anonymous woman, who said that she witnessed the rapes and procured the young girls for the parties, and “Joan Doe,” a classmate of the victim who said she was told about the rapes during the following school year. Tiffany Doe says that Epstein and Trump knew that Johnson was 13.