Trump Finally Faces Consequences for Decades of Alleged Sexual Abuse
Donald Trump has been found liable for defamation and battery of E. Jean Carroll, a jury found after deliberating for only a few hours on Tuesday.
Carroll’s civil lawsuit against the former president means Trump will not face jail time, although the jury determined he must pay his accuser a total of $5 million. The jury found that Trump sexually abused and defamed Carroll, but not that Carroll proved Trump raped her.
The determination — reached by a jury of six men and three women — closes the legal saga that began with Carroll’s 2019 accusation that Trump raped her in New York nearly 30 years ago — and leaves the frontrunner to land the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination with yet another legal black mark and moral stain.
It’s also the first time Trump has faced tangible consequences for his alleged sexual assaults. Carroll is one of dozens of women who have accused the president of various forms of sexual misconduct, dating back to the 1970s. Trump has denied any wrongdoing in every instance, often alleging, including in Carroll’s case, that the allegations are politically motivated.
Trump reacted to the verdict on Truth Social, maintaining his stance that he is somehow the real victim. “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. “VERY UNFAIR TRIAL!” he added later.
“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back,” Carroll said in a statement. “Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”
The jury’s determination comes a day after both sides delivered closing arguments on Monday, with Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina arguing that Carroll made up her allegations to raise her profile and sell books — “exploiting” and “victimizing” those who have suffered from “real rape,” Tacopina said.
Carroll’s lawyers closed, in part, by playing video of Trump’s deposition, in which he both claims Carroll is not his “type” and mistakes Carroll for his second wife, Marla Maples.
The arguments closed a two-week trial that featured powerful testimony from Carroll, who recounted the “extremely painful” assault she says took place in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-Nineties. Carroll first leveled the allegation in 2019, and then filed a defamation suit after Trump bashed her for it. She filed a separate battery suit late last year under New York’s new Adult Survivors Act.
“As I’m sitting here today, I still feel it,” she told the court in the opening days of the trial.
Carroll sparred with Tacopina during cross examination a day later, pushing back when Tacopina referenced the “supposed” assault and taking him to task when he asked why she didn’t scream. “Women don’t come forward,” Carroll said. “One of the reasons they don’t come forward is because they’re always asked, ‘Why didn’t you scream?’ I’m telling you, he raped me whether I screamed or not.”
Carroll’s team also called one of the author’s friends, who testified that she called her immediately after the alleged assault, as well as two other woman who have accused Trump of sexual assault. Natasha Stoynoff testified that Trump assaulted her at Mar-a-Lago in 2005, and Jessica Leeds testified that Trump groped her on a plane in 1979. “He was trying to kiss me. He was trying to pull me towards him. He was grabbing my breasts,” Leeds said. “It was like he had 40 million hands.”
Trump’s team didn’t call anyone, informing Judge Lewis Kaplan last week that they would not be presenting a defense. The former president claimed to reporters overseas last Thursday, however, that he would probably attend the trial and that he was returning to the United States early to “confront” Carroll daring to accuse he, a “rich” and “famous” person, of sexual assault. Tacopina reportedly insisted to Judge Kaplan that this would not be happening and, sure enough, Trump’s lawyers did not inform the court that he would testify by the deadline Judge Kaplan set for them to do so on Sunday.
Trump has instead been presenting his case to the court of public opinion, railing against Carroll on Truth Social and to the press. “The E. Jean Carroll case, Ms. Bergdorf Goodman, is a made up SCAM,” the former president wrote in the opening days of the trial. “Her lawyer is a political operative, financed by a big political donor that they said didn’t exist, only to get caught lying about that.”
Judge Kaplan warned Trump’s attorneys later that day that their client may be “tampering with a new source of potential liability” by attacking Carroll. Trump nevertheless continued to go after Carroll, telling reporters last week that she’s a “disgrace” and that she shouldn’t have been allowed to sue him, among other jabs. “I know you understand what I’m dealing with,” Tacopina reportedly told Judge Kaplan in explaining Trump’s comments.
Trump addressed the case again on Truth Social on Tuesday morning, complaining, falsely, that he is “not allowed to speak or defend myself” in the trial while promising to “appeal the Unconstitutional silencing of me, as a candidate, no matter the outcome!”
Trump told Fox News after the outcome was final that he does indeed intend to appeal. Tacopina said the same outside the courtroom. “This was a rape case all along and the jury rejected that but made other findings so we’ll obviously be appealing those other findings,’ he said to a throng of supporters.
Carroll was seen smiling and holding hands with her attorney when she left the courthouse, according to The New York Times. While she did not stop to answer any questions, a woman reportedly yelled to her, “You’re so brave and beautiful,” to which Carroll said, “Thank you, thank you so much.”
Ann Shirazi, a 78-year-old activist who stood outside as the verdict was announced, explained its significance to Rolling Stone. “This was an important trial for every woman,” she said. “It doesn’t just speak to E. Jean Carroll and what Donald Trump did to her. I think it speaks to every woman who is at risk of having a sexual predator.”
Contributors: Andrea Marks
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