There was a large crowd of demonstrators outside the courthouse denouncing his treatment of women when the verdict came down…reports Arul Louis
In a legal setback, former US President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $5 million in damages to a woman who accused him of rape but he does not face prison time because it was a civil case.
A jury gave the verdict on Tuesday in a civil case hinging on an attack in a fitting room in a high-end store decades ago and Trump defaming her by calling her accusations a “hoax”.
The jury did not accept her claim of rape, but declared him liable for sexual abuse and defamation.
E. Jean Carroll, 79, brought the case against the front-runner to be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate next year, Trump, who she said had raped her decades ago, but was not sure when it happened.
In a post on Truth Social media, Trump characteristically called the verdict a “continuing of the greatest witchhunt of all time” and said he would appeal.
There was a large crowd of demonstrators outside the courthouse denouncing his treatment of women when the verdict came down.
Carroll was a columnist for the Elle magazine at the time she said she was attacked around 1996.
Trump is facing a criminal case brought by a local prosecutor in New York accusing him of falsifying business records to cover up payments made to a woman who claimed to have had an affair with him.
If convicted in that case, he could be sentenced to prison time, although that would not bar him from running for election under the US Constitution.
The first former President to face criminal charges, Trump was arrested and produced in court last month but was released pending the trial that could take place early next year.
The latest opinion poll by ABC News and The Washington Post taken before the verdict showed him six percentage points ahead of President Joe Biden.
Trump, who is busy campaigning for his presidential run, did not take the witness stand to contest Carroll’s case.
Several women have accused him of rape and sex abuse, but the thrice-married Trump, who once revelled in the image of a playboy, has not faced criminal charges.
A damning piece of evidence introduced against him related to a video of him using an obscenity and saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab ’em by the (genitals).”
During a deposition – testimony and cross-examination outside a court to speed up the trial – he defended the statement saying that “historically that is true” when asked about it by Carroll’s lawyer.
A video of his statement made during the cross-examination was shown to the jury, a citizens’ panel made up of three women and six men, which gave the verdict in less than three hours of deliberations after eight days of the trial.
Carroll herself took the stand at the trial as did two other women who said that they had been abused by Trump, one of them while on a plane.
“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me,” Carroll told the jury and gave a graphic description of Trump abusing her with his fingers before raping her.
She said that the encounter took place in the lingerie department of the department store when he approached her on the pretext of trying to find a gift for a woman friend.
He banged her head on the wall of a fitting room before the attack, she said.
Carroll first made the accusations public while the presidential race was heating up in 2019 in a magazine excerpt ahead of the publication of her book, What do We Need Men For”? in which she wrote about the assault more than two decades after the attack.
He was unaffected by the disclosure and he contested the election next year, even as other women made accusations against him.
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina questioned Carroll’s credibility, saying that she did not report the attack to the police, didn’t remember the day it took place and brought it up decades later.
Two friends of Carroll testified that she had told them about the assault around the time it took place.
Lisa Birnbach said that Carroll told her about the assault minutes after it happened but declined her offer to accompany her to make a police complaint.
Trump is caught in a web of legal issues.
New York State Attorney General Leitia James has filed a civil case over his and his adult children’s business practices.
A state prosecutor in Georgia is looking into allegations that Trump interfered in the election results and a federal special counsel is examining if he had a role in the January 6, 2021, attack on Congress by his supoporters.
Federal prosecutors are also investigating his handling of classified documents that he took from the White House when he left office.