A US jury has concluded that Donald Trump sexually abused writer E Jean Carroll in the 1990s and later defamed her by branding her a liar. The latest move has dealt a major blow to the ex-US president who seeks re-election next year.
The outcome was read out on Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan federal, hours after jurors commenced deliberations after a seven-day civil trial.
Carroll had accused the former premier of sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s and then defaming her by disregarding her story – told in a 2019 memoir – as a “con job”.
On Tuesday, the nine-member jury determined that the ex-president did not rape Carroll, but they did find him liable for sexual abuse and defamation, according to The New York Times, CNN and other US news outlets.
The former Elle magazine columnist was awarded around $5m in compensatory and punitive damages. However, since this was a civil case, Trump faces no criminal consequences.
Trump’s mouthpiece, Steven Cheung, on Tuesday said the ex-premier would appeal. What this means is that Trump will not be obliged to pay the awarded damages so long as the verdict is being challenged in court.
Carroll held hands with her lawyers as the verdict was read on Tuesday. She left the courthouse with Kaplan, smiling and wearing sunglasses, and entered a car without speaking to reporters.
“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back,” Carroll said later on. “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.”
Earlier on, Trump had dismissed Carroll’s allegations as part of an effort to hurt him politically and drum up sales for her 2019 memoir.
With Carroll’s statement, Trump immediately lashed out with a statement on his social media site, claiming again that he does not know Carroll and referring to Tuesday’s verdict as “a disgrace” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time”.
Former US prosecutor Diana Florence said that while “appeals are very common” in civil lawsuits, she did not think Trump’s legal team would be able to change the outcome in this case.
“But it doesn’t seem that there was anything egregious [with the trial] that jumps out that says he is going to prevail,” said Florence, adding that the verdict would “very likely” be upheld.
During the trial, Trump’s legal team did not present a defence, instead gambling that jurors would find that Carroll had failed to make a persuasive case.
“What E Jean Carroll has done here is an affront to justice. She has abused this system by bringing a false claim for — amongst other things — money, status, political reasons,” Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said during closing arguments this week.