Dhe former US President Donald Trump has been found guilty of sexual abuse and defamation in a civil trial in New York. The jury announced on Tuesday after around two and a half hours of deliberations. The 79-year-old American author E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a luxury department store in York in 1996. Trump denied the allegations and called her a liar. According to the nine-member jury, he should now pay her $5 million in damages for defamation and assault.
Trump’s lawyer announced an appeal against the decision. “He’s ready to move on. He’s going to fight it with an appeal,” Joseph Tacopina said. Tacopina said he welcomed the dismissal of the more serious rape allegation. However, the verdict was inconsistent – the court was also biased.
The former President did not take the opportunity to testify at the trial. Carroll, on the other hand, was present every day of the trial. In response to the verdict, Trump wrote in capital letters on his social network Truth Social: “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace – a sequel to the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
During the trial, Carroll said Trump “lied and destroyed my reputation and I’m here to try and get my life back.” She and Trump, who was still a real estate entrepreneur at the time, met in front of a Manhattan department store almost thirty years ago. Trump first asked her to choose a gift for another woman and they went to the lingerie department. When she didn’t want to comply with his request to put on a certain piece of underwear, Trump led her into a changing room. There he held her, penetrated her first with his fingers and finally with his penis. It was “extremely painful”.
She eventually kneed him in the groin and escaped from the cabin, Carroll said. After the attack, however, it was “never possible for her to have a love life again”. Carroll also testified that she felt guilty about flirting with Trump before the abuse. That’s why she never reported him in part. According to Carroll, as part of the #MeToo movement, she finally decided to make the incident public. Accordingly, her story could help “change the culture of sexual violence”. Two of Carroll’s friends confirmed in the process that Carroll had already confided in them at the time. Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, accused the author in Monday’s closing argument of only making these allegations to sell her book.
Judge Lewis Kaplan asked those present in the courtroom on Tuesday to remain calm and avoid verbal reactions during the verdict. The jury – six men and three women – are now theoretically allowed to comment publicly on the case. However, Judge Kaplan advised them not to identify themselves, “not now and not for a long time”. Also, they should not divulge the names of other jury members.
Carroll filed her suit under the Adult Survivor’s Act. New York law stipulates that abuse victims can sue from November 2022 to November 2023 despite crimes that are actually already statute-barred. The state’s governor, Democrat Kathy Hochul, said after the ruling that she was proud to have signed the law. So “brave survivors” like Carroll could have their moment in court. Trump, in turn, is scheduled to appear on a CNN show on Wednesday night – the first time since his presidential campaign in 2016.