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A jury found Tuesday that Donald Trump sexually abused and defamed writer E. Jean Carroll, in a lawsuit tied to a decades-old rape allegation involving the former president and current presidential candidate. She was awarded $5 million in damages.
A nine-member jury returned the verdict just a few hours after the start of deliberations in a civil trial that began in late April and spanned several weeks.
Carroll claimed in 2019 that Trump raped her in a dressing room during a chance encounter at a Bergdorf Goodman store in New York City in the late 1990s. She says Trump defamed her on social media when he denied the allegation.
The jury determined that Carroll did not prove her allegation of rape but agreed Trump is liable for sexual abuse and defamation.
Trump does not face jail time following the trial, but it marks one of the first times he will face consequences for any of the claims of sexual misconduct women have made against him. It comes as he runs for president again and leads in Republican Party primary polling. Trump was expected to appear Wednesday in a televised forum hosted by CNN.
Trump also faces multiple separate criminal investigations.
Attorneys for Carroll needed to convince jurors that a preponderance of evidence supported her civil case, a standard for evidence that is lower than a criminal case.
Shortly after the verdict was read, Trump told Fox News Digital that he planned to appeal.
“This verdict is a disgrace,” he said. “It is a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in history.”
While Trump declined to testify in person during the trial, clips of a pre-recorded deposition of Trump were shown to the jury in which he denied the assault.
“It didn’t take place,” the 76-year-old Trump said in the video. He also said Carroll was “not my type” but also mistook her for his ex-wife, Marla Maples, in a photo from the 1980s. After Trump was corrected, he said the photo was blurry.
Shortly before deliberations began Tuesday, Trump claimed on his social media platform Truth Social that he was not “allowed to speak or defend myself” in the case. But District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw the trial, had given Trump an extended window through the weekend to testify.
Carroll’s testimony over several days included a detailed recounting of the alleged rape and the effects it had on her life. Carroll told the jury that she hasn’t had sex or a romantic partner since the alleged sexual assault.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” said the 79-year-old. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back.”
Carroll left a Manhattan courtroom smiling before entering a vehicle.
Later, she released a statement, saying: “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.”
Carroll testified during the trial that she told two friends about the alleged rape shortly after it happened; they testified to corroborate her account. Separately, two women who claim Trump sexually assaulted them — Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff — also testified.
Trump’s main attorney in the trial tried to frame Carroll as a liar and someone who was trying to make money off the allegation.
While the battery and defamation case is unrelated to Trump’s time in public office, the trial comes as the former president faces several investigations into his actions as president. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in relation to alleged hush money paid to adult film actor Stormy Daniels. He also faces investigations tied to alleged election interference in Georgia during the 2020 election and mishandling of classified documents.
Carroll was only able to file her lawsuit last November because of a new state law in New York that expanded a window for people to pursue civil claims involving sexual assault allegations where the statue of limitations have expired.
On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, who signed the bill into law, noted its significance.
“I was proud to sign the Adult Survivors Act so brave survivors like E. Jean Carroll could have their day in court,” she tweeted. “This law gives survivors the right to have their voices heard.”