Donald Trump sexually abused writer E Jean Carroll in the 1990s and then defamed her by branding her a liar, a United States jury has decided, delivering a legal blow to the former US president as he seeks re-election in 2024.
The verdict was read out in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after jurors began deliberating following a seven-day civil trial.
Carroll had accused the former US president of sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s and then defaming her by dismissing her story – told in a 2019 memoir – as a “con job”.
The nine-member jury determined on Tuesday that the ex-president did not rape Carroll, but they did find him liable for sexual abuse and defamation.
The jurors awarded the former Elle magazine columnist approximately $5m in compensatory and punitive damages. Because this was a civil case, Trump faces no criminal consequences.
His spokesman, Steven Cheung, said on Tuesday that the former president would appeal. That means he will not have to pay the awarded damages so long as the verdict is being challenged in court.
Carroll held hands with her lawyers as the verdict was read on Tuesday. She left the courthouse with Kaplan, smiling and wearing sunglasses, and entered a car without speaking to reporters.
Trump, who did not attend the New York trial, had dismissed Carroll’s allegations as part of an effort to hurt him politically and drum up sales for her 2019 memoir.
Trump immediately lashed out with a statement on his social media site, claiming again that he does not know Carroll and referring to Tuesday’s verdict as “a disgrace” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time”.
Former US prosecutor Diana Florence told reporters that while “appeals are very common” in civil lawsuits, she did not think Trump’s legal team would be able to change the outcome in this case.
During the trial, Trump’s legal team did not present a defence, instead gambling that jurors would find that Carroll had failed to make a persuasive case.
It remains unclear if the verdict will have an effect on Trump’s political chances, as he remains the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024.
The former president faces a host of other legal issues, including criminal charges in New York relating to a hush-money payment made to a porn star in 2016 and a Justice Department investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified documents.