RAINN Files Amicus Brief Arguing that Defaming Rape Victims Isn’t an Official Act of the Presidency
RAINN today urged the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to consider how a ruling in President Donald Trump’s favor in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him could have a chilling effect on survivors’ willingness to report sexual assault in the future.
Trump claims that his alleged defamation of Carroll was part of his official job as president, and he had the Justice Department intervene to take over the case. RAINN’s amicus brief argues that Trump’s actions and words couldn’t have had less to do with the job of a president, and that ruling in his favor “would give license to all federal officials to slander and defame their victims with impunity. Such a decision would have a chilling effect on survivors of sexual violence throughout the country and would exacerbate the challenges survivors already face in holding their attackers accountable.”
“At the heart of this case is whether survivors will be allowed to access justice or whether their rights to be made whole will be foreclosed upon,” said Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy at RAINN. “This case will set a legal precedent for survivors of sexual violence for decades, so it is critically important that the court understand the stakes.”
The amicus was written by RAINN’s pro bono counsel, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, led by partner Zoe Salzman and law clerk Julian Oppenheimer, working with RAINN’s legislative policy counsel, Erin Earp, and legal fellow, Jessica Gaudette Reed.
“The standards set in this case will have long-term impacts on the rights and recourse available to survivors of sexual assault who are seeking justice,” said Salzman. “We are honored to join RAINN and the other organizations on this brief in a case with such far-reaching implications on this critically important issue.”
Joining RAINN on the brief are Legal Momentum; the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; the National Center for Victims of Crime; the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault; Safe Horizon; and Time’s Up.
“RAINN is especially grateful for the hard work and dedication that Zoe and the team at Emery Celli have shown in supporting victims of sexual violence,” said Cooper.
RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, educate the public, help organizations improve their sexual assault prevention and response programs, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free, confidential help is available 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visiting online.rainn.org.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
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“No organization does more for survivors of sexual violence in their times of greatest need. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline to ensure that no survivor has to feel alone. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with caring and empathetic support specialists who can help survivors and their loved ones process what has happened to them and access the resources they need to start their healing journey. I can think of no better way to assist survivors than to support RAINN’s ongoing ability to be able to answer the call for every survivor that needs them.”
After #MeToo, demand for RAINN’s services jumped 67 percent. And now, during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, minors have made up more than half the visitors to the online hotline. To meet the challenge, RAINN is embarking on a two-year, $10 million fundraising campaign: Thrive Together. The campaign focuses on three vital initiatives:
• Answering the Call. This initiative will enable RAINN to meet the skyrocketing demand for survivor-centered, trauma-informed services through the National Sexual Assault Hotline. In addition to staffing up the hotline, this initiative will enable RAINN to expand their online training program, adapt new technological innovations, and ensure that people in every community learn about and trust RAINN’s services. Goal: $5 million.
• Shaping the Narrative. This initiative will enable RAINN to work alongside the media and entrainment industry to tell stories that spark change. RAINN is working to change the conversation about sexual violence, raise awareness and educate the public, and bring hope to survivors and their loved ones by amplifying the voices of survivors. Goal: $3 million.
• Championing Change. This initiative is to build coalitions and launch strategic efforts for survivor-led change across the country, protect vulnerable populations from sexual abuse, and ensure all survivors have access to critical care and services.
Goal: $2 million.