Former President Donald Trump was found liable on Tuesday of sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s and of defaming her when she accused him of assault decades later.
Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her case was the first to make it to a courtroom. Trump has vehemently denied all of the allegations, aiming particular vitriol at Carroll.
But on Tuesday, a jury in New York unanimously found Trump liable of sexual abuse and battery against Carroll and of defaming her, after deliberating for fewer than three hours. While they ruled that there isn’t a preponderance of evidence that Trump raped Carroll, they still recommended Carroll be awarded $2 million in damages for the sexual and physical abuse. They also recommended she be awarded an additional $3 million for defamation.
The decision wraps up a high-profile but remarkably speedy trial. Trump, who will not face jail time, declined to testify in the courtroom, although he repeatedly declared his innocence on social media. During the two-week trial, his lawyers sought to paint Carroll as a liar, an attention-seeker, and an implausible rape victim.
Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She has sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media. Her lawsuit is civil, not criminal, because she waited too long to report the assault to police.
She remained steadfast throughout the trial, repeatedly affirming that Trump attacked her in the store and that she kept quiet because she was afraid of what he might do to her. There was clearly a good reason for those concerns: Trump attacked her character again and again to try to fight off the accusations.
The evidence that Carroll’s team introduced included Trump’s notorious Access Hollywood tape, in which he brags about groping women without their consent, and the video recording of Trump’s own deposition. At one point during his deposition, the former president reveals his true character: He doubles down on the Access Hollywood comments, confirming that “fortunately or unfortunately,” stars get away with assaulting women all the time.
Not this time.