Jury returns bombshell verdict against Donald Trump

A jury has found former US president Donald Trump sexually abused a magazine columnist in the 1990s and then defamed her by branding her a liar.

After just two hours of deliberations, a verdict was read out on Wednesday morning (AEST) in the civil case brought by E. Jean Carroll.

Mr Trump was found liable for sexually abusing Ms Carroll in the dressing room of a luxury department store in New York in 1996.

The jury found Mr Trump then defamed the advice columnist in October 2022 when he posted on Truth Social that her allegations were a “con job”.

It is the first time a former US president has been found liable of sexual abuse.

But jurors rejected Carroll’s claims that she was raped.

The jury awarded Carroll a total of $US5 million in damages ($7.4 million) for battery and defamation.

The jury of six men and three women deliberated for just over two and a half hours.

Mr Trump reacted on social media with a post typed in all capital letters.

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is,” Mr Trump wrote.

“This verdict is a disgrace – a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”

He said his team would appeal the verdict.

Earlier, US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan read instructions on the law to the nine-person jury.

If they believed Carroll, jurors were told they could award compensatory and punitive damages.

Mr Trump, who did not attend the trial, has insisted he never sexually assaulted Carroll or knew her.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told the jury in closing arguments that Carroll’s story was too farfetched to be believed.

He said she made it up to fuel sales of a 2019 memoir where she first publicly revealed her claims and to disparage Mr Trump for political reasons.

Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, cited excerpts from Mr Trump’s October deposition and his notorious comments on a 2005 Access Hollywood video in which he said celebrities can grab women between the legs without asking.

She urged jurors to believe her client.

“He didn’t even bother to show up here in person,” Ms Kaplan said, referring to Mr Trump’s absence from court during the two weeks of trial. She said much of what he said in his deposition and in public statements “actually supports our side of the case”.

“In a very real sense, Donald Trump is a witness against himself,” she said.

“He knows what he did. He knows that he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll.”

E. Jean Carroll leaves the Manhattan Federal Court after the verdict. Photo: Getty

Carroll, 79, testified that she had a chance encounter with Mr Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower.

She said it was a light-hearted interaction in which they teased each other about trying on a piece of lingerie before Mr Trump became violent inside a dressing room.

Mr Tacopina told jurors there was no reason to call Mr Trump as a witness when Carroll couldn’t even recall when her encounter with Trump happened.

He told the jury Carroll made up her claims after hearing about a 2012 Law & Order episode in which a woman is raped in the dressing room of the lingerie section of a Bergdorf Goodman store.

“They modelled their secret scheme on an episode of one of the most popular shows on television,” he said of Carroll.

Two of Carroll’s friends testified that she told them about the encounter with Mr Trump shortly after it happened, many years before the episode aired.

Topics: Donald Trump
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