US jury finds Donald Trump sexually abusing writer E Jean Carroll

NEW YORK: Donald Trump sexually abused a magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s and then they defamed her as a liar, jurors decided on Tuesday, dealing with the first president of the United States a legal setback like him campaigns resume office in 2024.
The nine-member jury in Manhattan federal court awarded approximately $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The jury deliberated for just under three hours. He rejected Trump’s denial that he assaulted Carroll and ruled in favor of him. To hold him accountable, the jury of six men and three women had to reach a unanimous verdict.
Carroll, 79, testified in his civil trial that Trump, 76, raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996, then damaged her reputation, writing in an Oct. 2022 on her Truth Social platform that her claims were a “complete scam”, “a hoax” and “a lie”.
President from 2017 to 2021, Trump is the favorite in opinion polls for the Republican presidential nomination and has shown an uncanny ability to weather controversies that could sink other politicians.
It seems unlikely in America’s polarized political climate that the civil verdict will impact key Trump supporters, who see his legal woes as part of a concerted effort by opponents to undermine him.
“People who are anti-Trump will stay that way, mainstream pro-Trump voters won’t change, and ambivalent ones who I don’t think will be moved by this kind 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, she said.
Jurors were tasked with deciding whether Trump raped, sexually abused, or forcibly touched Carroll, any of which would satisfy his battery request. They were separately asked whether Trump had defamed Carroll.
Since it was a civil suit, Trump faces no criminal charges. Carroll was seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Trump’s legal team opted not to present a defense, betting that jurors would find that Carroll failed to present a compelling case.
Trump had said Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist and registered Democrat, fabricated the allegations to try to boost sales of his 2019 memoir and to hurt him politically.
Because the case was in civil court, Carroll was required to establish her rape claim with “a preponderance of evidence” – meaning more likely than not – rather than the higher standard used in criminal cases of “evidence beyond all reasonable doubt”. Carroll had to show “clear and convincing evidence” to prove his libel claim.
The trial featured testimony from two women who alleged Trump sexually assaulted them decades ago.
Former People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff told jurors Trump cornered her at his Mar-a-Lago Florida club in 2005 and forcibly kissed her for “a few minutes” until when a butler interrupted the alleged assault. Another woman, Jessica Leeds, testified that Trump kissed, groped and put his hand up her skirt during a flight in 1979.
Jurors also heard excerpts from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump claims women allow him to “pull their pussy.”
“Historically, that’s true, with the stars… if you look at the last few million years,” Trump said in an October 2022 video deposition replayed in court. He has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual misconduct.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan told jurors in closing arguments Monday that the 2005 video was evidence that Trump had assaulted Carroll and other women.
The federal trial, presided over by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll’s attorney, began on April 25. Citing the uniqueness of a civil suit against a former president, the judge ruled that the jurors’ names, addresses and workplaces would be kept secret.
Carroll testified that she ran into Trump at Bergdorf’s while she was shopping for a gift for another woman. Carroll said she agreed to help Trump choose a gift and the two of her looked at her lingerie before he coaxed her into a locker room, slamming her head against a wall and raping her. Carroll testified that she did not remember the precise date or year the alleged rape occurred.
Carroll faced questions from Trump’s legal team attacking the plausibility of her account, including why she never reported the matter to police or screamed during the alleged incident.
Two of Carroll’s friends said she told them at the time about the alleged rape but swore them to secrecy because she feared Trump would use her fame and wealth to retaliate against her if she came forward.
Carroll told jurors she decided to break her silence in 2017 after rape allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein prompted scores of women to come forward with accounts of sexual assault by powerful men. She went public with her account while Trump was still president.
She said Trump’s public denials destroyed her career and instigated a campaign of vicious online harassment by her supporters, including various threatening messages and social media posts.
Though Trump did not testify at the trial, a video clip from the October 2022 deposition showed him mistaking Carroll for one of his ex-wives in a black-and-white photo among several people at an event.
“It’s Marla,” Trump said in the deposition, referring to his second wife Marla Maples. Trump previously said he couldn’t have raped Carroll because she wasn’t “he the he kind of he” of him.
Trump cited the Carroll trial in campaign fundraising emails as evidence of what he describes as a Democratic plot to harm him politically.
His poll numbers improved after he was accused in New York in March of falsifying company documents for a secret payment to a porn star ahead of his victory in the 2016 presidential election.
That indictment, filed in New York state court, made him the first past or present U.S. president to be criminally charged. Trump pleaded not guilty and said the charges were politically motivated.


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