During the 1990s, a journalist was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump in a Manhattan department shop. This verdict is a huge legal setback for the former US president as he mounts a third run for the White House.
In the lawsuit filed by E Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist and television presenter, a nine-person jury took only a few hours to unanimously find Trump responsible for violence and slander but cleared him of a second claim of rape. She received $5 million in total damages from the verdict.
Carroll declared in a statement that "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."
"I have absolutely no idea who this woman is," Trump remarked in a social media post following the ruling. "This verdict is a disgrace — a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time." Later, he declared that he would challenge the verdict.
The choice was made as Trump began his campaign to become the Republican nominee for president for a third time. Trump is facing a variety of legal issues, including criminal accusations over alleged "hush money" payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. According to recent research, the 76-year-old is still incredibly popular with rightwing people.
Carroll, 79, made her initial accusations of rape against Trump in a magazine article that was published in 2019. She claimed to have met the future president, who was then a real estate magnate, in Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Avenue flagship store somewhere between 1995 and 1996.
She asserted that after assisting Trump in choosing a gift, he took her to a dressing room where he allegedly abused her sexually by pushing her up against a wall. Carroll filed a lawsuit against Trump last year after a law was approved in New York allowing the revival of claims that had previously been blocked by the statute of limitations.
Throughout the two-week trial, Trump waived his right to testify in his own defense and even turned down the judge's invitation to make a last-minute appearance. On Thursday, his attorneys decided to rest their case, depending solely on refuting Carroll's alleged "conspiracy" against the former president rather than calling any of their own witnesses.
Trump denied ever meeting his accuser, referred to her as a "whack job," and called her lawsuit a "hoax" in a sworn deposition conducted by Carroll's attorneys in October and played to the court.
Even though he mistakenly identified Carroll in a photo as his second wife Marla Maples, he implied that he could not have raped Carroll because she was "not my type."
On social media, Trump complained that he had not been "allowed to speak" or explain himself as voting was about to start on Tuesday. He also charged Carroll with "working with the press" in the post.
Roberta Kaplan, the attorney for Carroll, portrayed the case as "Trump's word against everyone else's word" on Monday during closing arguments, pointing out parallels between her client's account of the alleged rape and the testimony of two other accusers of the former president, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff.
"He kissed them without their consent. He grabbed them. He didn’t wait," Kaplan said in reference to Trump's remarks in the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women's genitalia. Carroll's defense team repeatedly played the recording to the jury after it was made public for the first time during the 2016 presidential contest.
Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina acknowledged that the tape was "rude and crude" and claimed that the former president had previously apologized for the remarks he made off-camera. He told the jury on Monday, "I would knock my boys’ teeth out if they talked like that. But that doesn’t make Ms Carroll’s unbelievable story believable."
Trump cannot be imprisoned as a result of the case because it was a civil, not a criminal matter. The "preponderance of the evidence" was all that was required for the jury to find in Carroll's favor.
Following the decision, Kaplan issued a statement calling it "a victory not only for E Jean Carroll, but for democracy itself, and for all survivors everywhere."
By fLEXI tEAM