Trump found liable for sexual battery, defamation in E. Jean Carroll trial
A jury found former President Trump sexually abused writer E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s and later defamed her by denying her claims, marking the first time Trump has been found liable for sexual misconduct at a trial.
The nine-member jury found Trump did not commit rape, but jurors found him liable for sexual abuse, another form of sexual battery. He also was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.
As a civil case, Carroll had to prove her claims by a preponderance of evidence. Trump faces no related criminal charges, which would have required a higher standard.
“I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS. THIS VERDICT IS A DISGRACE – A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
The jury arrived at the verdict on Tuesday after beginning deliberations earlier in the day.
“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back. Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed,” Carroll said in a statement.
During the nearly two-week-long trial in federal court, Carroll told jurors Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in New York City during the spring of 1996.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll testified. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try and get my life back.”
She came forward publicly in 2019, when an excerpt of her forthcoming book was released in New York magazine. The former president repeatedly denied Carroll’s story, claiming she made it up to sell the book.
Carroll sued Trump in November by leveraging a New York law that went into effect the same day, which provides sexual assault survivors a one-year window to bring civil lawsuits against their abusers, even if the statute of limitations passed.
Carroll further sued Trump for defamation over a statement that he made in October 2022 that called her story a “complete con job” and that she “is not my type.”
For the battery count, the jury ordered Trump to pay $2 million and an additional $20,000 in punitive damages.
In connection with the defamation count, jurors ordered Trump to pay $2.7 million plus an additional $280,000 in punitive damages, a total sum of $5 million.
The trial began late last month, with Carroll becoming the first witness to take the stand. She told jurors she was afraid to come forward and only did so in 2019 because of the #MeToo movement.
In a heated moment, Trump attorney Joe Tacopina on cross-examination questioned why Carroll did not scream during the altercation.
“I’m telling you, he raped me, whether I screamed or not,” Carroll testified, raising her voice.
She then called to the stand several other witnesses, including two friends who testified Carroll confided in them about the incident soon after it happened.
Jurors also heard from two other women who separately accused Trump of sexual assault: Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of groping her during a 1979 airplane flight, and Natasha Stoynoff, who alleged Trump groped her during a 2005 People magazine interview. Trump has denied their claims.
Trump did not call any witnesses or testify in his defense. After his lawyer insisted the former president would not appear, Trump, who was in Ireland at the time, told reporters there he would “probably attend.” The judge overseeing the case then gave him a window to request to do so, but no motion was filed.
The jury did, however, see portions of Trump’s videotaped deposition from October. In the deposition, Trump again denied Carroll’s story, at times attacking the appearance of Carroll and her lawyer. He also defended the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and denied the accounts of the other two women.
Trump still faces another lawsuit Carroll filed against him roughly two years earlier.
That case sues Trump for defamation over his initial denials when Carroll came forward in 2019. But that suit has been held up over a debate regarding Trump’s immunity because he made those statements while in office.
Updated: 4:43 p.m.
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