Former President Donald Trump has been found liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s by a New York jury. However, the jury did not find him liable for her alleged rape. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages for her battery and defamation claims.
The jury checked the box that said “yes” when asked if Carroll had proven “by a preponderance of the evidence” that “Mr. Trump sexually abused Ms. Carroll” but checked the box that said “no” when asked if she had proven that “Mr. Trump raped Ms. Carroll.” The verdict also found that Trump defamed her by calling her claims a “hoax” and “a con job.” The verdict has no criminal implications, and the legal standard for liability in the civil case was not as high as in criminal cases. The civil benchmark is that it is more likely than not that something occurred. Carroll filed her lawsuit last year, accusing Trump of battery and defamation. The jury deliberated for only three hours before returning the verdict.
Former President Donald Trump Slapped with Defamation Liability in Sexual Assault Lawsuit.
Former US President Donald Trump has been found civilly liable for sexually assaulting writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. The verdict is a significant milestone in the #MeToo movement and marks the first time a former US president has been held accountable for sexual misconduct.
Trump has consistently denied the allegations, and he took to his social media website, Truth Social, to blast the verdict shortly after it was handed down. In his post, he claimed that he had “absolutely no idea who this woman is” and called the verdict “a disgrace – a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign issued a statement, accusing the case of being a political effort to target Trump, who they claim is an “overwhelming front-runner” for the 2024 presidential election. The spokesperson also stated that the case would be appealed, and they were confident that they would ultimately win.
The trial has been closely watched, with many legal experts predicting that a ruling in Carroll’s favor could have significant implications for future sexual misconduct cases involving high-profile individuals.
E. Jean Carroll Details Rape Allegations Against Donald Trump in Court Testimony
E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist for Elle magazine, took the stand for three days in April as the star witness in her lawsuit against former President Donald Trump. Carroll accused Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store near his Fifth Avenue home in 1995 or 1996.
Carroll testified that she had met Trump once before in the late 1980s and ran into him at the store’s entrance. Trump, who said he was shopping for a lady friend, invited her to come along, and she agreed. Carroll said that she and Trump joked around as they made their way to the sixth-floor lingerie department.
According to Carroll’s testimony, Trump motioned her toward the dressing room, and when she went inside, he “shut the door and shoved me against the wall” and raped her. Carroll alleged that the attack lasted a “few minutes” before she was able to flee.
After the alleged rape, Carroll said she called a friend, writer Lisa Birnbach, to tell her what had happened. Birnbach urged her to call the police, but Carroll refused, saying she blamed herself for the attack. Carroll also said she told another friend, Carol Martin, about the alleged assault days later, and Martin urged her not to go to the police for fear that Trump and his lawyers would “bury her.”
During the trial, portions of Trump’s videotaped deposition from October were played for the jury. Trump denied the allegations and called Carroll’s account a fiction that she concocted to boost book sales, saying the writer was “not my type.”
The verdict, which held Trump civilly liable for sexual misconduct, carries no criminal implications. The legal standard for liability in civil cases is not as high as in criminal cases, with the benchmark being that it’s more likely than not that something occurred. In contrast, the standard for convictions in criminal cases is proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense presented by Trump’s legal team
In his opening statement, Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina stated that he found Carroll’s claims “unbelievable.”
He alleged that she was motivated by financial gain, political reasons, and status, and in doing so, she was belittling real rape victims, causing them further harm, and using them for personal gain.
While on the witness stand, Carroll was asked if she had been “allegedly raped,” to which she responded firmly, “I was raped.”
Tacopina persistently questioned her about why she didn’t scream for assistance or notify the police.
Carroll told him that he had raped her regardless of whether she had screamed for help or not.
When asked if she found it strange that she didn’t report the attack to the police, Carroll replied, “Many women choose not to involve the police, and I understand their reasons.”
Tacopina also questioned Carroll about her political views and social media posts, including her past admiration of Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” which she clarified did not extend to the portions where he fired contestants. Ultimately, Trump’s defense team chose not to call any witnesses, including Trump himself, who had initially been listed as a possible witness but waived his right to testify.
Additional individuals who have made similar allegations.
Meanwhile, the lawyers representing Carroll presented portions of Trump’s deposition to the jury, in which he mistakenly identified a photo of Carroll from the 1980s as his former wife Marla Maples.
They additionally attempted to reinforce her argument by introducing witness statements from two other women who claimed they were approached inappropriately by the businessman.
Jessica Leeds, who was 81 at the time, accused Trump of groping her on a flight to New York in the late 1970s. The other accuser, Natasha Stoynoff, testified that she went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in 2005 to interview him and his wife Melania for an anniversary story, but alleged that Trump forcibly kissed her against a wall before being interrupted by a staffer. Trump denied both of their claims and even ridiculed Leeds’ appearance and allegations at a campaign rally in 2016.
Before the court heard the case, an anonymous jury was selected for the Trump trial
The judge used an anonymous jury for the trial, which was an uncommon move in a civil case. He explained that Trump’s previous derogatory remarks about the justice system, judges, and even individual jurors, could influence or even intimidate the jurors in this case. The jurors’ identities were not disclosed to the public or the lawyers of both parties to avoid any potential media attention, influence attempts, or harassment by Trump’s supporters.
All nine jurors pledged their impartiality. However, Tuesday’s verdict may not be the end of the legal battle between the two parties. Carroll previously sued Trump for his allegedly defamatory comments regarding her rape allegations while he was president. This case is still ongoing in the same courthouse and before the same judge as the second case. It had been delayed in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., over the question of whether Trump was immune from liability as president. The case was sent back to Judge Kaplan last month.
In November, Carroll filed a second lawsuit that included the rape allegation and a new defamation claim based on Trump’s post-presidential remarks about her. She filed it after a New York law opened a one-year window for adult victims of sexual offenses to file civil suits, even if the statute of limitations had expired, as it had for Carroll.