Six key moments from Donald Trump’s civil rape trial

Jury finds former US president sexually abused writer E Jean Carroll, but Trump rejects verdict as ‘disgrace’.

Trump at a podium that reads: "Text Trump to 88022, Trump, Make America Great Again"
Former President Donald Trump, who is running for the White House again in 2024, is facing multiple investigations and legal issues [File: Marco Bello/Reuters]

After a seven-day civil trial, jurors in New York have found that former United States President Donald Trump sexually abused writer E Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s and then defamed her by calling her a liar.

Trump was quick to denounce the verdict on Tuesday as a “disgrace” and reiterated on this Truth Social online platform that he does not know Carroll.

The former Elle magazine columnist had accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store in New York City 1995 or 1996. She also alleged that the ex-president defamed her by dismissing her story – told in a 2019 memoir – as a “con job”.

Trump – who is seeking the White House again in 2024 – has vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict, which awarded Carroll approximately $5m in damages.

Here were some key moments from the trial:

Anonymous jurors

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan took the unusual step of keeping jurors anonymous from both the public and lawyers to shield them from potential harassment by Trump supporters.

“If you’re normally a Bill and you’re selected for the jury or even before, you can be John for a couple of days,” Kaplan told prospective jurors.

Judge warns Trump team about online posts

On the second day of the trial, Kaplan warned Trump’s legal team that his posts about the case on his Truth Social platform the day before could open him to “a new source of potential liability”.

Carroll’s lawyers had flagged two posts in which Trump called the case a “made up SCAM” that was “financed by a big political donor”.

‘He raped me,’ Carroll says

Facing repeated questioning from Trump’s lawyer about why she did not scream during the alleged assault, Carroll lost patience and raised her voice.

“I’m telling you: He raped me whether I screamed or not,” she said.

Trump waives right to testify

Trump waived his right to testify but jurors saw footage of his October 2022 video deposition during which he defended vulgar comments he made in a 2005 video.

Trump was asked about the 2005 Access Hollywood interview, where he made lewd comments, saying that as a celebrity he can grab women’s genitals without asking.

“Historically, that’s true, with stars … if you look over the last million years,” Trump, hunched over a conference table, said in the deposition played during the trial.

Carroll’s lawyer accuses Trump of ‘pattern of behaviour’

During closing arguments on Monday, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan – who is not related to Judge Kaplan – said testimony by two other women who have alleged that Trump sexually assaulted them established a pattern of misconduct. Trump has denied those allegations, as well.

“Three different women, decades apart, but one single pattern of behaviour,” the lawyer said, arguing that Trump’s defence was asking jurors to believe the “ridiculous” claim that the other witnesses conspired to lie.

Trump lawyer calls case ‘affront to justice’

Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, claimed during his closing argument that Carroll’s lawsuit was a cash grab, publicity stunt and political mission rolled into one.

“What E Jean Carroll has done here is an affront to justice. She has abused this system by bringing a false claim for amongst other things money, status, political reasons,” Tacopina said.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters