By Larry Neumeister, Jennifer Peltz,
and Michael R. Sisak,
A jury found Donald Trump liable Tuesday for sexually abusing advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in 1996, awarding her $5 million in a judgment that could haunt the former president as he campaigns to regain the White House.
The verdict was announced in a federal courtroom in New York City on the first day of deliberations. Jurors rejected Carroll’s claim that she was raped, but found Trump liable for sexual abuse and for defaming Carroll after she made her allegations public.
Trump chose not to attend the civil trial and was absent when the verdict was read.
Carroll nodded as the verdict was read. Afterward, her lawyers put their arms around her, and she hugged supporters in the gallery, smiling through tears.
Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, shook hands with Carroll and hugged her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan. As the courtroom cleared, Carroll could be heard laughing and crying.
Trump immediately lashed out with a statement on his social media site, claiming again that he does not know Carroll and referring to the verdict as “a disgrace” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
The trial’s outcome was a validation for Carroll, one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment. She went public in 2019 with her allegation that the Republican raped her in the dressing room of a posh Manhattan department store.
Trump, 76, denied it, saying he never encountered Carroll at the store and did not know her. He has called her a “nut job” who invented “a fraudulent and false story” to sell a memoir.
Carroll, 79, had sought unspecified damages, plus a retraction of what she said were Trump’s defamatory denials of her claims.
The trial revisited the lightning-rod topic of Trump’s conduct toward women.
This article was originally published by Associated Press.