POLITICS

Court Lets 'Apprentice' Contestant's Defamation Suit Against Trump Proceed

The ruling means the former president could face questions under oath about the sexual assault allegations made by Summer Zervos.

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump could face questioning under oath about a former “Apprentice” contestant’s sexual assault allegations against him, following a ruling from New York’s highest court Tuesday.

Evidence-gathering has been on hold in Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit since Trump asked the high court last year to declare the that the presidency protected him from being sued in state courts. In a one-sentence ruling, the Court of Appeals tossed Trump’s appeal as moot now that he’s out of the White House.

Lawyers for the woman, Summer Zervos, had asked the high court to nix the appeal and return her defamation suit to a trial court for both sides to continue pretrial evidence-seeking that could eventually enable Zervos’ lawyers to quiz Trump under oath, and his to question her. Deadlines for such questioning, known as a deposition, had been set for last year before Trump appealed to the high court.

“Now a private citizen, the defendant has no further excuse to delay justice for Ms. Zervos, and we are eager to get back to the trial court and prove her claims,” lawyers Beth Wilkinson and Moira Penza said in a statement Tuesday.

A request for comment was sent to Trump’s lawyers. Zervos’ attorneys said in a court filing last month that Trump’s lawyers didn’t oppose dismissing the appeal.

Zervos is suing Trump for calling her a liar after she went public during his 2016 campaign with allegations that he subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping twice in 2007. She had appeared on his reality show “The Apprentice” in 2006 and said she was looking only for career advice when she contacted him afterward.

She sued after he retweeted a message calling her claims “a hoax” and described women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment as “liars” trying to hurt his presidential chances.

Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz has said that the former president’s statements were true and protected by free speech rights and that Zervos’ claims are meritless.

Zervos is seeking a retraction, an apology and damages.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, unless they come forward publicly.