A Manhattan jury on Tuesday found former President Donald J. Trump liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of the magazine writer E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages in a widely watched civil trial that sought to apply the accountability of the #MeToo era to a dominant political figure.
The federal jury of six men and three women returned its verdict shortly after 3 p.m. after deliberating for only a few hours. The jury found that Ms. Carroll had not proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Trump had raped her, as she had long claimed.
But the jury did find he had sexually abused her. Jury members had the option of finding Mr. Trump liable for sexual abuse or for forcible touching, which are less serious charges than rape under state law.
And the jury found that Mr. Trump, 76, defamed Ms. Carroll when he posted a statement on his Truth Social website in October, calling her case “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.”
Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in 2024, called the trial unfair on social media. He was expected to appear at a televised town hall meeting on CNN on Thursday, his first appearance on the network since the 2016 presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said outside the courthouse that his client would appeal. “Strange verdict,” he said. “This was a rape claim, this was a rape case all along and the jury rejected that, made other findings. We’ll obviously be appealing those other findings.”
Ms. Carroll sued the former president last year. She testified at trial that he shoved her against a wall and raped her in a dressing room of the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, in the mid 1990s.
Although more than a dozen women have accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct over the years, allegations he has always denied, Ms. Carroll’s case is the first of those claims to be successfully tested before a jury.
The jury’s unanimous verdicts came after just under three hours of deliberation in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Its findings are civil, not criminal, meaning Mr. Trump has not been convicted of any crime and faces no prison time.
Ms. Carroll nodded along as the verdict was read, her nod growing more pronounced as the jury said that Mr. Trump was liable for defamation. After the jury left the courtroom, Ms. Carroll embraced her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan.
Sexual abuse is defined in New York as subjecting a person to sexual contact without consent. Rape is defined under state law as sexual intercourse without consent which involves any penetration of the penis in the vaginal opening.
The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, had told the jury before sending it to deliberate that the “preponderance of the evidence” standard could be understood as “more likely true than not true.” In a criminal case, when a jury is asked to assess guilt, they must meet a much higher standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The jurors in the case were allowed to remain anonymous, even from the judge and lawyers. Before discharging the jury on Tuesday, the judge suggested to the jurors that they should “not identify yourselves, not now and not for a long time.”
New York Times