A federal jury in New York found former President Donald Trump liable for battery and defamation in a civil trial stemming from allegations he raped the writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.
While jurors rejected Carroll’s claim that she was raped, they found Trump responsible for a lesser degree of sexual assault. Jurors also found Trump liable for defaming Carroll after she made her allegations public. Carroll was awarded $5 million total in damages.
Carroll sued Trump under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York state law passed late last year, which gave adult victims of sexual assault and abuse one year to bring lawsuits against their alleged perpetrators regardless of when the alleged abuse took place.
Carroll’s lawsuit requested compensatory and punitive damages as well as an order that Trump retract his statement.
Trump’s presidential campaign released a statement that said the Democrats’ “witch hunt” had reached a “new low,” calling it an “abuse of our great Constitution.”
A Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement, “Make no mistake, this entire bogus case is a political endeavor targeting President Trump because he is now an overwhelming front-runner to be once again elected President of the United States.”
“This case will be appealed, and we will ultimately win,” the statement said.
The verdict marks the first time a former president has been found civilly liable for sexual misconduct.
Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson, a Trump critic, said, “The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump.”
Carroll sued in Manhattan federal court last year, alleging Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store near his Fifth Avenue home in 1995 or 1996. She first went public with the claim in 2019 in her book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.”
The verdict carries no criminal implications. The legal standard for liability in the civil case — the preponderance of the evidence — wasn’t as high as in criminal cases. The civil benchmark is that it is more likely than not that something occurred, while the standard for convictions in criminal cases is proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.