Trump rages at sex assault verdict, order to pay $7.4m in damages

A furious Donald Trump has lashed out after a jury found he sexually abused magazine writer E. Jean Carroll and then defamed her by branding her a liar.

Overnight (AEST), the New York jury awarded Carroll $US5 million ($7.4 million) in damages.

Mr Trump was absent throughout the civil trial, which began on April 25. But he reacted with fury with a rush of statements and videos on his Truth Social platform on Wednesday, calling the verdict a “disgrace”.

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is,” he said.

Mr Trump said the verdict was a “continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time”, and again claimed he did not know know who E. Jean Carroll was.

The former Elle magazine columnist also issued a statement after the verdict.

“Today, the world finally knows the truth,” she said.

“This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

Mr Trump – who is campaigning to retake the White House in 2024 – will appeal, his lawyer Joseph Tacopina said outside the Manhattan federal courthouse.

Mr Tacopina called the jury’s decision a “strange verdict”, noting that it rejected Carroll’s rape claim. Mr Trump was “firm in his belief” that he could not get a fair trial in New York City “based on the jury pool”, Mr Tacopina said.

Carroll, 79, testified during the civil trial that Mr Trump, 76, raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in either 1995 or 1996, then harmed her reputation by writing in an October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform that her claims were a “complete con job,” “a hoax” and “a lie”.

Because it was a civil case, Mr Trump faces no criminal consequences and, as such, there was never a threat of prison.

Trump lashes E. Jean Carroll verdict as 'disgrace'

Source: Twitter

The jury, required to reach a unanimous verdict, deliberated for just under three hours. Its six men and three women awarded Carroll $US5 million ($7.4 million) in compensatory and punitive damages, but Mr Trump will not have to pay so long as the case is on appeal.

President from 2017 to 2021, Mr Trump is the frontrunner in opinion polls for the Republican presidential nomination and has shown an uncanny ability to weather controversies that might sink other politicians.

It seems unlikely in America’s polarised political climate that the civil verdict will have an impact on Mr Trump’s core supporters, who view his legal woes as part of a concerted effort by opponents to undermine him.

His poll numbers improved after he was charged in April with falsifying business records over a hush money payment to a porn star before his victory in the 2016 presidential election.

The first US president past or present to be criminally charged, Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty and said the charges are politically motivated.

Carroll testified that she bumped into Mr Trump at Bergdorf’s and agreed to help him pick out a gift for another woman. The two looked at lingerie before he coaxed her into a dressing room, slammed her head into a wall, pulled down her tights and penetrated her, she testified. Carroll said she could not remember the precise date or year the alleged rape occurred.

Jurors had to decide whether Mr Trump raped, sexually abused or forcibly touched Carroll, and were separately asked if Mr Trump defamed her. They found Mr Trump sexually abused her but not that he raped the writer.

Before the jurors began deliberating, Judge Lewis Kaplan defined rape for them as non-consensual “sexual intercourse” through “forcible compulsion”. He described sexual abuse as non-consensual “sexual contact” through forcible compulsion.

Jurors awarded Carroll $US2 million ($3 million) in compensatory damages and $US20,000 ($29,600) in punitive damages for her battery claim, and $US2.7 million ($4 million) in compensatory and $US280,000 ($414,000) in punitive damages for her defamation claim.

Mr Trump’s legal team attacked the plausibility of Carroll’s account, including why she had never reported the matter to police or screamed during the alleged incident.

Two of Carroll’s friends said that she told them about the alleged rape at the time but swore them to secrecy because she feared that Mr Trump would use his fame and wealth to retaliate if she came forward.

While Mr Trump did not testify at the trial, a video clip from the October 2022 deposition showed him mistaking Carroll for one of his former wives in a black-and-white photo among several people at an event.

“It’s Marla,” Mr Trump said in the deposition, referring to his second wife Marla Maples. Previously Mr Trump had said he could not have raped Carroll because she was “not my type”.

-with AAP

Topics: Donald Trump
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