A civil jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation of former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll Tuesday, awarding her a total of $5 million in damages.
It rejected her rape claim.
The jury turned its verdict around mere hours after it was given the case Tuesday morning.
Trump responded on Truth Social with his usual verbiage, calling the verdict a “disgrace” and the trial a “witch hunt.”
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan had kept the jury — comprised of six men and three women — anonymous throughout the trial, citing Trump’s rhetorical attacks related to his April indictment in New York for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
Carroll, a former magazine columnist, accused Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store changing room in the mid-1990s, and then lying about it and defaming her afterward.
Carroll’s lawyers hammered Trump’s track record, presenting the jury with everything from the Access Hollywood tape, where he brags about assaulting women consequence-free, to the accusations of two other women, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, who testified that Trump also sexually assaulted them in semi-public places (an airplane and Mar-a-Lago, respectively). In total, Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault by over 20 women.
Trump stumbled in this case in ways that seemed to help Carroll’s cause. While he refused to testify in court, his video deposition showed him mistaking a young Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples — despite his protestations that he wouldn’t rape Carroll because she’s not his “type.”
Carroll’s lawyer also pressed him on the beginning and end dates of his various marriages, none of which he could remember. It was a seeming direct response to the tactic used by Trump’s lawyers (and frequently weaponized against sexual assault survivors) to shed doubt on Carroll’s account because she couldn’t remember the exact date when it allegedly happened.
He gave another striking response during his deposition when asked whether his Access Hollywood comments — about famous individuals being able to get away with sexual assault — were true.
“If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” he replied. “Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
Trump’s lawyers tried to paint Carroll as an attention-seeking liar, and to argue that her and her friends’ political opposition to Trump was the real root of the supposed fabrication. Carroll has said that it was the Me Too movement that prompted her to come forward. Trump’s team called no witnesses.
Carroll first sued Trump for defamation in 2019, after she made her accusations public in an excerpt from her then-upcoming book. He claimed that he had never met her — prompting her to supply a picture of the two of them conversing in a group — and that she fabricated the assault to juice her book sales. That case has since been postponed indefinitely after bouncing around the courts, which struggled to determine if Trump’s comments, which he made during his presidency, came under the purview of his role as a government official.
The case that ultimately went to trial is a separate one, stemming from a lawsuit Carroll filed in 2022 after New York state passed the Adult Survivors Act. The law provides a one-year window, expiring this November, for victims of sexual assault to file civil claims related to episodes beyond the state’s statute of limitations. Carroll’s second lawsuit made a new defamation claim and added a battery claim. She was seeking an unspecified dollar amount in damages, saying that Trump has damaged her reputation.