Former President Donald Trump (R) has been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation in connection to E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman fitting room around 1996. Trump called her accusations a “hoax” and a “complete con job.”
While the jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, Trump has said he intends to appeal the decision over its “unconstitutional silencing” of his voice. He was given the option to testify in the case, but his lawyers declined. Trump provided neither witnesses nor evidence to support his defense, The New York Post reported.
The nine-member jury in the U.S. District Court of Lower Manhattan deliberated for three hours before announcing its verdict. Caroll’s attorneys called forth 11 witnesses, including two friends who she allegedly informed about the 1996 rape.
In 1996, Carroll worked as a columnist for Elle magazine. She testified that she and Trump flirted and joked while she helped him find a gift for a woman at the Bergdorf Goodman department store. She said Trump led her to a “desolate” sixth-floor lingerie department and asked her to try on a see-through neglige; she laughed, threw it back at him, and suggested he try it on instead.
She said that Trump then led her to a fitting room where she bumped her head twice while Trump held her against a wall. Trump then forcibly penetrated her, Carroll claimed. Her friend Lisa Birnbach testified that Carroll called her “hyperventilating” minutes after the alleged assault. Though Birnbach encouraged Carroll to tell the police, Carroll refused.
Two other women who testified at the trial said that Trump had tried to forcibly kiss them, establishing a pattern for his sexual misconduct.
Trump was deposed for the trial last October at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida residence. Video footage of his deposition was played at the trial. In the deposition, Trump was asked about his 2005 comments to Access Hollywood that, “When you’re a star, [women] let you do it… grab them by the p**sy.”
He answered, “If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.” Trump also spent a lot of time in the deposition attacking Carroll as a “nut job” and “wacko.”
Today’s court decision marks the second high-profile court ruling against Trump, who is also a Republican presidential candidate. In late March, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump for his alleged orchestration of a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult star with who he is rumored to have had a sexual affair.
Trump is the only president in U.S. history to face criminal charges.