Civil jury: Trump liable for battery, defamation in E. Jean Carroll case

NEW YORK — A jury ordered former President Donald Trump to pay about $5 million in damages after finding him liable of battery and defamation in a civil lawsuit brought by longtime magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.

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Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a dressing room at a luxury department store in New York in the 1990s and said he defamed her after he called her a liar when she later went public with the allegations.

Trump will appeal jury’s verdict

Update 10:13 p.m. EDT May 9: Former President Donald Trump said he will appeal the jury’s verdict, calling it “a disgrace.”

“We’ll be appealing this decision. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said in one of several videos to Truth Social, his social media platform. “Somehow we’re going to have to fight this stuff. We cannot let our country go into this abyss. This is disgraceful.”

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

‘A victory’: Carroll issues statement after verdict

Update 10:08 p.m. EDT May 9: E. Jean Carroll released a statement after the verdict, calling it “a victory” for herself and other victims of abuse.

“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back,” Carroll said in a statement. “Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Video shows Carroll leaving courthouse after verdict

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT May 9: Video posted on social media shows Carroll smiling as she left the courthouse Tuesday following the jury’s verdict.

She did not speak to reporters.

Trump calls verdict ‘A DISGRACE’

Update 3:40 p.m. EDT May 9: In a social media post Tuesday, Trump called the verdict issued Tuesday “A DISGRACE,” adding that it’s “A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!”

Trump has long denied having sexually assaulted Carroll. In his social media post, he repeated, “I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS.”

A photo that was part of court filings showed Carroll and Trump together at an NBC party in the 1980s. CNBC reported.

Trump defamed Carroll, jury determines

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT May 9: The jury determined that Trump defamed Carroll when he called her a liar after she went public with allegations of sexual assault against him, Reuters reported.

The jury awarded about $5 million total in compensatory and punitive damages, according to Reuters.

Jury finds Trump sexually abused Carroll

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT May 9: Jurors determined that Trump sexually abused Carroll but did not go so far as to determine that he raped her in a luxury department store in New York City in the 1990s, CNN reported.

The verdict was being read in court on Tuesday afternoon.

Original report: Jurors reached a verdict on Tuesday afternoon after less than three hours of deliberations, Law and Crime reported.

Before getting the case earlier on Tuesday, jurors heard about two weeks of testimony. An attorney for Carroll argued in closing statements that Trump defamed her client after she went public with sexual assault allegations against him in 2019. Trump’s attorneys argued that Carroll made up the story for political reasons and to sell copies of her memoir.

On Monday, Carroll’s attorney emphasized that two other women testified that they were attacked by Trump and that he called no witnesses in his defense, The New York Times reported.

“He didn’t even bother to show up here in person,” Roberta Kaplan said.

Trump said in a statement Tuesday on social media that he was “not allowed to speak or defend myself, even as hard nosed reporters scream questions about this case at me,” nothing that he is “a current political candidate.”

“I will therefore not speak until after the trial, but will appeal the Unconstitutional silencing of me, as a candidate, no matter the outcome!”

It was not immediately clear why Trump believed he was not allowed to speak. The Guardian noted that his attorneys decided not to call him as a witness during the trial.

Jessica Leeds told jurors that Trump molested her with what felt like “40 zillion hands” while he sat next to her in first class on a jet in the late 1970s, The Associated Press reported. Former People writer Natasha Stoynoff said Trump assaulted her at his Mar-a-Lago estate in December 2005 while she was there to interview him and his wife, Melania Trump, for a story, according to the magazine. At the time, Melania Trump was pregnant.

Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, dismissed the allegations, asking jurors why Leeds only came forward after he launched his bid for the White House in 2015, the Times reported. He pointed to emails between Carroll and her friend, Lisa Birnbach, about selling books, saying, “It became her lifestyle.”

In 2019, Carroll publicly accused Trump of sexually assaulting her years earlier when New York Magazine published an excerpt from her book “What Do We Need Me For? A Modest Proposal.” She said he attacked her in 1995 or 1996 in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.

Trump denied that the incident ever happened, telling The Hill at the time that “she’s not my type” and that she was “totally lying.”

Later that year, Carroll sued Trump, accusing him of “malicious libel.”

The Justice Department sought to intervene in the case and replace itself with Trump, arguing that he was acting within the scope of his duties when he denied the allegations. A judge rejected the argument in 2020, although an appeal is ongoing. If the courts side with the Justice Department, it would end Carroll’s case as the federal government can’t be sued for defamation.

Carroll filed a new lawsuit last year accusing Trump of defaming her in 2022, after he left the White House, and battery.

The case is the latest legal challenge faced by the former president.

In March, a grand jury in New York indicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, making him the first president to face criminal charges. The charges came six months after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, accusing him of fraud.

In Georgia, the former president is facing an investigation into whether he or his allies broke the law in their efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss in the state. Federal authorities are also investigating his efforts to block President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win and classified records found after his presidency at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump announced last year that he is running for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race.

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