Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation of Elizabeth Jean Carroll by a New York jury on May 9 (local time), Reuters reported.
The jury deliberated the case within three hours, after a civil trial that lasted about two weeks. The six men and three women awarded Carroll US$5 million (S$6.63 million) in damages.
This includes approximately US$2 million (S$2.65 million) for the sexual abuse count and almost US$3 million (S$3.98 million) for defamation, according to The Guardian.
However, the jury did not find that Trump had raped Carroll, despite her allegations, the New York Times (NYT) reported.
Under New York state law, sexual abuse is defined as subjecting a person to sexual contact without consent. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without consent that involves any penetration of the penis in the vaginal opening.
In a civil trial, the 79-year-old columnist and former Elle magazine writer testified that Trump, 76, had raped her in a New York department store in either 1995 or 1996, according to Reuters.
She described in graphic detail about the assault which occurred in a dressing room at the store’s lingerie section, but did not tell anyone about it besides her two close friends, NYT reported.
Carroll went public in 2019 by revealing the encounter in a New York magazine.
She claimed that Trump later destroyed her reputation by branding her claims as untrue in a post on his Truth Social platform in October 2022, Reuters reported.
She also testified that the attack had ended her romantic life, according to The Guardian.
A long trial
The trial, which began on Apr. 25, was not attended by Trump, nor did he call any witnesses.
On the other hand, Carroll’s legal team called 11 witnesses to prove its case that she had been sexually assaulted in the dressing room, the BBC reported.
Among them, two women had also claimed that they had similar sexual assault encounters with Trump many years ago.
The two close friends of Carroll testified that the latter had indeed told them of the incident back in the 1990s.
The former U.S. president, though not present, denied the rape claims in a video deposition taken in October 2022, saying that “it’s just made up”.
Carroll’s lawsuit also asserted that Trump acted “as a witness against himself” in the deposition when he defended the comments he made in a 2005 audio recording known as the Access Hollywood tape.
Trump previously asserted that Carroll was “not his type” but later confused a photo of Carroll with Marla Maples, his ex-wife, BBC reported.
In a statement after the trial, Carroll remarked that the truth has come to light, according to Reuters.
“This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed,” she was quoted as saying.
After the hearing, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to say that he had “absolutely no idea who this woman is” and called the verdict a “witch hunt”.
Nevertheless, due to the case being civil not a criminal one, Trump is not liable for any criminal charges or jail term.
Trump, who will be standing for election in 2024, will file an appeal, according to his lawyer Joseph Tacopina, Reuters reported.
Defending the ex-president’s absence from the trial, Tacopina said that the hearing had “a circus atmosphere”, according to NYT.
During the trial, he repeatedly clashed with the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, and questioned Carroll on why she did not scream during the attack.
Tacopina later protested about the supposed “bias displayed by the court” and the judge’s decision to use an anonymous jury.
The verdict comes shortly after Trump was slapped with 34 criminal charges in April 2023 for falsifying business records in a case linked to hush-money payments.
He is the first former U.S. president to be indicted on criminal charges.
He also faces criminal investigations for the U.S. Capitol storming in January 2021, his retention of classified documents, attempts to reverse his loss in the 2020 Georgia elections and civil inquiries into his business.
Besides denying all wrongdoings, he claimed that the lawsuits and investigations were politically-motivated and meant to slander him, according to NYT.
You might be interested:
Top images via Getty Images – Tasos Katopodis & Spencer Platt