Court finds Trump guilty of sexual abuse, awards $5 million to victim
Donald Trump sexually abused magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s and then defamed her by branding her a liar, jurors decided on Tuesday and awarded her $5 million in damages.
The former U.S. president, campaigning to retake the White House in 2024, will appeal, said his spokesman Steven Cheung. Trump will not have to pay so long as the case is on appeal.
Carroll, 79, testified during the civil trial that Trump, 76, raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in either 1995 or 1996, then harmed her reputation by writing in an October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform that her claims were a “complete con job,” “a hoax” and “a lie.”
Carroll held hands with her lawyers as the verdict was read.
She left the courthouse with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, smiling and wearing sunglasses, and entered a car without speaking to reporters.
The nine-member jury in Manhattan federal court awarded $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Although the finding of sexual abuse was enough to establish Trump’s liability for battery, the jury did not find that he raped her.
The jury deliberated for just under three hours before rejecting Trump’s denial that he assaulted Carroll. To find him liable, the jury of six men and three women was required to reach a unanimous verdict.
Trump was absent throughout the trial which began on April 25. In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump called the verdict a “disgrace” and said, “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is.”
‘CORE PRO-TRUMP VOTERS ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE’
President from 2017 to 2021, Trump is the front-runner in opinion polls for the Republican presidential nomination and has shown an uncanny ability to weather controversies that might sink other politicians.
It seems unlikely in America’s polarized political climate that the civil verdict will have an impact on Trump’s core supporters, who view his legal woes as part of a concerted effort by opponents to undermine him.
“The folks that are anti-Trump are going to remain that way, the core pro-Trump voters are not going to change, and the ambivalent ones I just don’t think are going to be moved by this type of thing,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist in Pennsylvania.
Any negative impact is likely to be small and limited to suburban women and moderate Republicans, Gerow said.
Trump has cited the Carroll trial in campaign fundraising emails as evidence of what he portrays as a Democratic plot to damage him politically.
His poll numbers improved after he was charged in New York in March with falsifying business records over a hush money payment to a porn star before his victory in the 2016 presidential election.
That indictment, filed in New York state court, made him the first U.S. president past or present to be criminally charged. Trump has pleaded not guilty and said the charges are politically motivated.