A federal jury has found Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who alleged that Trump raped her in 1996 in the dressing room of a New York City department store. The jury found that Carroll’s attorneys had failed to prove the rape allegation, but the jurors did agree that Trump had forcibly sexually abused her. The jury determined that Trump must pay Carroll $5 million.
The nine-person jury—a panel of six men and three women—took less than three hours to deliberate. The short deliberation was something of a surprise. Carroll herself was on the stand for several days, describing the alleged incident. Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, talked for more than two-and-a-half hours in his closing argument on Monday, nearly as long as the jury deliberated.
Carroll wrote a book in 2019 in which she accused Trump of the assault, which she said took place after she ran into him at the Bergdorf Goodman department store, located across the street from Trump Tower. On the stand, Carroll testified that she immediately told two friends, both of whom testified on her behalf, but that she didn’t tell anyone else about the alleged attack until 2018, when she began work on her book. After Carroll went public with the story, Trump lashed out, calling her a liar and saying she wasn’t “my type”—which Carroll testified she interpreted to mean she was “too ugly to rape.” She sued him for defamation, but the case got bogged down in arguments over whether Trump was protected from the lawsuit because of his role as president. But when Trump repeated his comments in November 2022, Carroll filed a new lawsuit.
Trump did not attend the trial, and Tacopina presented no witnesses on his behalf. But in both his opening and closing statements, Tacopina aggressively accused Carroll of lying, saying she was trying to harm Trump’s political fortunes and make herself a celebrity. The jury clearly disagreed.
While jurors didn’t find Trump liable for raping Carroll, the verdict was largely a vindication of her story. The jury had three options to choose from if they believed Trump committed battery: They could have found that Trump had raped her; that he had sexually abused her; or that he had forcibly touched her. By choosing the second option, the jurors apparently indicated they believed the bulk of Carroll’s story—that Trump pounced on her, threw her against the wall of a dressing room, forcibly kissed her, and shoved his hand up her dress and grabbed her genitals. Carroll said that Trump had also inserted his penis, but the jury evidently did not believe that Carroll’s attorneys had proved that allegation.
After the verdict, Trump immediately took to his Truth Social platform, where he called the outcome “A DISGRACE – A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!” Carroll, who left the court with a broad smile, gave no comment to reporters there.
Update: Carroll released a statement Tuesday evening saying it was a victory for all victims of sexual assault who aren’t believed.
“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back. 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,” she said.