A New York federal jury found former President Donald Trump liable on Tuesday for sexually abusing and forcibly touching the writer E. Jean Carroll at a department store in the 1990s, and for defaming her last fall when he denied her claim.
The jury of six men and three women ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The verdict in the civil trial came after less than three hours of deliberations in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan.
The jury notably did not find Trump liable for rape, as Carroll had alleged, but the findings that he sexually abuse and touched her without consent substantiated her civil claim of battery.
“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back,” Carroll said in a statement. “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.”
Her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, in her own statement, said, “No one is above the law, not even a former President of the United States.”
“For far too long, survivors of sexual assault faced a wall of doubt and intimidation,” Kaplan added. We hope and believe today’s verdict will be an important step in tearing that wall down.”
Trump, in a post on his social media site Truth Social, wrote, “I have absolutely no idea who this woman [Carroll] is. This verdict is a disgrace.”
A spokesman for his 2024 Republican presidential campaign said, “This case will be appealed, and we will ultimately win.”
Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rides a golf cart at Trump International Golf Links course, in Doonbeg, Ireland May 4, 2023.
Damien Storan | Reuters
The verdict is the latest legal blow against Trump, who leads early polls for the 2024 GOP nomination. In late March he was indicted by a Manhattan state Supreme Court grand jury on nearly three dozen counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump also faces pending federal criminal investigations related to his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election, and to his failure to surrender government documents when he left the White House in early 2021. He also faces possible indictment by a Georgia grand jury for his attempt to get officials there to reverse President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election in that state.
E. Jean Carroll exits the Manhattan Federal Court following the verdict in the civil rape accusation case against former U.S. President Donald Trump, in New York City, May 9, 2023.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Carroll, 79, claimed in her lawsuit that Trump raped her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman store in the mid-1990s.
Trump cannot be prosecuted for the alleged rape because the statute of limitations for such a crime has long since passed.
But Carroll sued him with a civil claim of battery under a New York state law enacted in late 2022 that opened a one-year window for lawsuits alleging sexual assaults which otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations.
Carroll also claimed that Trump defamed her last fall when he said she had made up her account of being raped.
Trump, 76, called the allegations “a complete con job,” and said that she was not his “type.”
Despite that claim, Trump mistook Carroll for his second wife Marla Maples in a photo showing him and Carroll together in the 1980s.
Former Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll watches as a former U.S. president Donald Trump’s video deposition is played in court during a civil trial where Carroll accuses the former U.S. president in a civil lawsuit of raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and of defamation, in New York, U.S., May 4, 2023 in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Trump did not testify during the trial.
But portions of a video of his deposition taken last fall by Carroll’s lawyer were played for jurors during the trial, and during closing arguments on Monday.
That deposition included Trump being asked about his comments in 2005 during a taping for the entertainment television show “Access Hollywood,” in which he boasted: “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet.”
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump said on that tape. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said, including “grab ’em by the p—-.”
Trump told Carroll’s lawyer during the deposition that those comments were “locker room talk.”
But he also said it has been “historically … true with stars” that they could grab women without their permission.
“If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” Trump testified in his deposition. “Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
Carroll took the witness stand.
“I’m here because Trump raped me,” she testified.
In her testimony, Carroll said she encountered Trump by chance in Bergdorf Goodman, where he recognized her as an advice columnist. She testified that when they ended up in the store’s lingerie department he ushered into a dressing room, where he shoved her against a wall and sexually assaulted her.
Two friends of Carroll’s, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Marin, testified she had told them soon after the alleged incident that Trump had raped her.
Two other women testified that Trump had kissed and groped them without their consent in incidents that occurred years apart.
A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign said of the jury’s verdict, “The Democratic Party’s never-ending witch-hunt of President Trump hit a new low today.”
“In jurisdictions wholly controlled by the Democratic Party our nation’s justice system is now compromised by extremist left-wing politics,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this entire bogus case is a political endeavor targeting President Trump because he is now an overwhelming front-runner to be once again elected President of the United States.”
But Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol that while the jury verdict does not necessarily have any effect on Trump’s candidacy, “The fact is, I do not think he could win the presidency.”
“He’s got a solid supportive base, but you can’t win a general election with just your base,” Cornyn said, according to NBC News. “So you have to appeal to a broader spectrum of people and he just never seems to try to do that. So to me, that’s the reason why I don’t think he can get elected.”
Read: Trump jury verdict form
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