Verdicts & Settlements

Jurors award $5M to writer who sued Trump for alleged assault; what evidence supported her allegations?

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E. Jean Carroll May 2023

Writer E. Jean Carroll walks out of Manhattan federal court in New York City on May 9. A jury has found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing the advice columnist in the 1990s, awarding her $5 million. Photo by Seth Wenig/The Associated Press.

Jurors in a civil lawsuit filed against former President Donald Trump have found he sexually abused and defamed writer E. Jean Carroll and he is liable for $5 million in damages.

The verdict was delivered Tuesday after about three hours of deliberation, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Carroll had claimed that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in New York City in the 1990s and defamed her by denying that it happened.

Jurors found that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll but did not rape her. The special verdict form used at the trial is here.

New York law defines sexual abuse as sexual contact without consent. Rape is sexual intercourse without consent.

Damages were awarded for the sexual assault and the defamation.

Trump didn’t testify at the trial, a fact emphasized by lawyers for Carroll in closing arguments, according to prior coverage by the New York Times.

Trump “never looked you in the eye and denied raping Ms. Carroll,” said lawyer Michael J. Ferrara. “That’s because he did it.”

Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina had asked for a jury instruction that said Trump’s presence was “excused.”

The full requested instruction read: “While no litigant is required to appear at a civil trial, the absence of the defendant in this matter, by design, avoids the logistical burdens that his presence, as the former president, would cause the courthouse and New York City. Accordingly, his presence is excused unless and until he is called by either party to testify.”

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York had denied the request, according to prior coverage by NBC News.

Tacopina had argued that Carroll’s claims were lies motivated by “amongst other things, money, status, political reasons.” During his cross-examination of Carroll, he asked why she didn’t scream.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan outlined the evidence against Trump in her closing argument. That evidence included:

  • Carroll’s testimony over three days, as summarized here by the Washington Post. “I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll said. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back.”
  • Two women who testified that Carroll told them about the sexual assault after it happened.
  • Two other women who testified that Trump had groped and kissed them without their consent.
  • Trump’s deposition in which he misidentified a photo of Carroll as picturing his second wife, Marla Maples. When Carroll first accused Trump, he said he would not have raped her because “she’s not my type.”
  • Trump’s deposition in which he did not repudiate an Access Hollywood recording in which he bragged about grabbing women by the genitals. “They let you do it” when you are a star, he said on the Access Hollywood tape. In the deposition, Trump said, “Well, historically, that’s true with stars.”

Trump responded to the verdict on Truth Social, his social media platform.

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace—a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!” he wrote.

See also: “Is Trump immune in defamation suit over rape denial? It’s too soon to decide, top DC court says” “Lawyers for Trump and rape accuser square off over DNA offer”

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