Ivana Trump Backpedals Rape Claims — Here’s Why We Should Take It With A Grain Of Salt

By now, everyone’s heard that presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump was accused of raping ex-wife Ivana Trump 30 years ago.

Since the old allegations, made during their divorce and hashed out in a book published in 1993, were brought to light by the Daily Beast, Ivana has back-pedaled a bit, the New York Post reported. But she downgraded her accusation of rape back in the 90s, as well.

According to Think Progress, Trump told her friends that her husband raped her, but that description was modified to claim that she “felt violated.” The amended statement came from Donald’s lawyers (not hers) to the publisher before the biography was published — that statement was ultimately printed on the first page.

The allegation sounds brutal. The author of the book, entitled Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, Harry Hurt III said the alleged incident was instigated by Mr. Trump’s unsatisfactory trip to a cosmetic surgeon recommended by Ivana. He allegedly ripped her hair from her head, then “tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants” and then “jams his penis inside her.”

In the statement Mr. Trump’s lawyers issued, Ivana described the incident as a session “marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness which he normally exhibited towards me was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Now Ivana, 66, said the allegations were made at a time of “very high tension,” the story is “without merit,” and not only is her ex a good friend, but would make an “incredible president.”

Accompanying her recant of the allegation is a truly stunning claim — since retracted with an apology — made by Michael Cohen, the man running Trump’s campaign and his lawyer.

“By the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse. It is true. You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

But the fact that Ivana, both shortly after the alleged incident and today, has minimized her experience in the press isn’t flying with CNN contributor Sally Kohn, according to Real Clear Politics. She noted that the Daily Beast’s reporting was based in facts, and the reports were credible.

Kohn suggested the public look upon Ivana’s change of tune skeptically, as the former Mrs. Trump “can’t speak without Trump’s permission on this” due to a court order. She also noted that Ivana called it rape in court.

“I’m uncomfortable that in all this we seem to be letting slide the suggestion that the entire story wasn’t true. No one has actually reacted the fact of what happened. They’re changing the characterization of it. Let’s be clear about that.”

Of course, no one but Ivana and Donald know what happened that day in 1989. And what Cohen has claimed — that you can’t rape your spouse — is a disturbing sign that our culture is a little confused about the definition, the Guardian pointed out.

First of all, marital rape is illegal, and it has been in all 50 states since 1993. It was illegal at the time Ivana alleges her own assault took place. But past cases have shown the confusion that underlies such accusations.

A politician said of similar allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julien Assange, “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.” And who could forget Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s 2012 gem, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

And even though marital rape has been illegal for decades, the law still treats it differently from other forms of sexual assault, Think Progress added, and 26 percent of all sex offenses aren’t even recorded as crimes.

All of which raises the question: Why does our culture seem so confused about what sexual assault is? What are your thoughts?

[Photo Courtesy Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images]