Following less than three hours of deliberation, the nine jurors in the highly watched civil trial dismissed E. Jean Carroll’s rape accusation against Donald Trump but unanimously accepted her other charges.
It is the first time Trump has faced legal ramifications for a spate of sexual assault allegations extending back decades, and the former president quickly dismissed the conviction as a “disgrace.”
Carroll, 79, filed a lawsuit against Trump last year, saying that he raped her in the changing room of the posh Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 1996.
The former Elle magazine columnist also alleged that Trump defamed her when he labelled her “a complete con job” after she made the allegation public in 2019.
Trump, the 76-year-old Republican leader in next year’s presidential race, labelled her case a “hoax” and “a lie.” Carroll was granted $2 million after the jury concluded that she had proven sexual abuse (essentially sexual contact without consent) by a preponderance of the evidence.
The jury of six men and three women also agreed that Trump should pay Carroll about $3 million for defamation. Carroll smiled as she exited the Manhattan federal court, but she did not talk to reporters. Meanwhile, her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan said, “We’re very happy.”
On his social media platform Truth Social, Trump lambasted the outcome, saying, “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’s 2024 campaign stated in a statement that the case was a “political endeavour” to undermine Trump’s reelection attempt and that he would appeal.
Carroll testified during the two-week civil trial that the assault had left her “ashamed” and unable to establish intimate connections. She claimed it took her more than two decades to speak up because she was “frightened” of Trump.
Her attorneys invited two additional women to testify that Trump sexually attacked them decades ago. Former entrepreneur Jessica Leeds claimed Trump touched her in the business class section of a flight in the 1970s.
Natasha Stoynoff, a journalist, claimed Trump kissed her without her consent during an interview at his Mar-a-Lago home in 2005. Several dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct prior to his election to the presidency in 2016.
He has rejected all of the allegations and has never been charged in connection with any of them. Carroll’s lawsuit cannot lead to criminal prosecution.
Trump did not testify, nor did his defence team summon any witnesses throughout the trial. The jury was shown a video of a sworn deposition he gave in October. In it, Trump referred to Carroll as “a liar” and a “really sick person.”
Carroll’s lawyers said that he made up the charge “for money, political reasons, and status.” She filed her claim under a New York legislation that gives victims of sexual assault a one-year window to sue their alleged perpetrators decades after the event.
In civil processes, the burden of proof is lower than in criminal trials, where prosecutors must establish their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was one of numerous legal challenges threatening to derail Trump’s attempt for re-election, despite the fact that Republican supporters had largely remained faithful to their candidate up until now.
Trump pled not guilty last month to criminal charges stemming from a hush-money payment made to a porn star just before the 2016 election to cover up an affair.
Trump is also being investigated for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, his alleged mismanagement of confidential information obtained from the White House, and his involvement in the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters.