Trump Facing Deposition Over Sexual Assault Claims in Lawsuit Filed By Ex-'Apprentice' Contestant

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, left, and Ringo H.W. Chiu, FilesIn this combination photo, President Donald Trump, left, listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on March 13, 2017 in Washington and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" appears at a news conference in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 2016, to announce claims that Trump made unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007
In this combination photo, President Donald Trump, left, listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on March 13, 2017 in Washington and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice appears at a news conference in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 2016, to announce claims that Trump made unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007 - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.10.2021
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During the 2016 presidential campaign, Summer Zervos claimed that Donald Trump had groped and aggressively kissed her on two separate occasions in 2007, when she met him privately for what she believed was a discussion about job opportunities. Her accusations were dismissed by the Republican nominee for president as a “hoax”.
Former president Donald Trump must submit to questioning in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” by Christmas, according to a ruling by a New York state court, cited by ABC News.
Lawyers for Trump and Summer Zervos have been ordered to make haste and complete the factual discovery phase that includes depositions of both sides.
"I do want to have an order entered and have the close of that discovery before Christmas," said Michael Rand, a law clerk for New York State Judge Jennifer Schechter, who is overseeing the lawsuit, at a virtual court hearing on Monday.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the reality TV show that Donald Trump hosted for the first fourteen seasons, filed the lawsuit against him in 2017, accusing him of defamation after he publicly rejected her accusation of sexual assault.
Zervos claimed that Trump groped and kissed her in a 2007 encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In a 2016 statement, Trump had said that he had "never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago."
Besides dismissing the allegations as a “hoax”, Trump also called Zervos a liar, and her case politically motivated.
This prompted the woman to file the lawsuit in state court in January 2017, as she claimed that Trump’s comments had harmed her reputation. Zervos sought a retraction or an apology, coupled with compensatory and punitive damages.

‘Frivolous Lawsuit’

The defamation case has dragged on, in part as then POTUS Trump argued that a sitting president could not be sued.
“Now he’s a private citizen. I’m sure like any other litigant, we can have mutually agreeable dates for depositions. I really don’t see a reason that before the end of the year, you’re not done with depositions,” said law clerk Michael Rand.
He said he expected a trial date to be set in early 2022.
While the two parties are currently still locked in a legal wrangle over disclosure of certain documents pertaining to the case, Zervos’ attorney Moira Penza said:
“We just don’t believe our client can be further prejudiced in delaying this litigation any longer. We do not believe there are any outstanding issues that would prohibit the parties from engaging in depositions.”
In response, Trump attorney Alina Habba parried that it was “completely ridiculous” to hope for immediate depositions when Zervos herself had failed to turn over all relevant information.
“Ms. Zervos is claiming emotional damages and financial damages… How can we, as defense counsel, provide any kind of quality deposition when we don’t have all the medical records?"
In a statement, Habba said the trial court “made its position clear today - Ms. Zervos must comply with the court’s directive and produce all relevant and outstanding discovery. In the meantime, we will be vigorously defending the President against this frivolous lawsuit.”
Trump’s lawyer said that the ex-POTUS planned to countersue his accuser under New York’s “anti-SLAPP” law (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”), encouraging free speech.
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