US jury deliberates on Donald Trump’s liability in rape allegation lawsuit
New York – A US jury began deliberations on Tuesday to determine whether former president Donald Trump is liable for the alleged rape of an American former magazine columnist in the mid-1990s. If the nine jurors rule in favour of accuser E. Jean Carroll, it would mark the first time Trump has faced legal consequences over claims of sexual misconduct.
Trump denies the allegation and has not faced criminal prosecution. The New York jury is weighing a civil lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages from him. Carroll, 79 years old, filed litigation against Trump last year, claiming he raped her in a changing room at the luxury Bergdorf Goodman store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 1996. The former Elle magazine columnist contends that Trump defamed her when he called her “a complete con job” after allegations went public in 2019.
The 76-year-old frontrunner for the Republican nomination for next year’s presidential election terms Carroll’s case a “hoax” and “a lie.” During the two-week-long civil trial, Carroll detailed the alleged assault that left her feeling “ashamed” and unable to have romantic relationships. She said it took over 20 years to go public due to fear of Trump.
Carroll’s lawyers called two other women to the witness stand who testified that Trump sexually assaulted them including former businesswoman Jessica Leeds and journalist Natasha Stoynoff. Approximately one dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct before the 2016 election that saw him elected to the White House. Trump denies all allegations and has not faced prosecution for any of them. No criminal case will arise from Carroll’s lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Trump did not testify during the proceedings, and his defence team called no witnesses. A video of a sworn deposition he gave in October has been played to the jury. In the footage, Trump labels Carroll “a liar” and “a really sick person.” Lawyers for Trump argued that Carroll invented the allegation “for money, for political reasons, and for status.”
Carroll filed her lawsuit under a New York law allowing victims of sexual assault a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers even after decades. The lawsuit accuses Trump of one count of battery for “forcibly raping and groping” Carroll, and one count of defamation for causing “reputational, emotional, and professional harm.” The jury in the case must decide whether Carroll’s lawyers proved her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower burden than in criminal trials that require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
This lawsuit is one of several legal challenges confronting Trump, which may complicate his attempt to regain the presidency. In January, Trump pleaded not guilty in a criminal case related to a hush-money payment made to a porn star before the 2016 vote. He is also under investigation in Georgia for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, possible mishandling of classified documents taken from the White House, and involvement in the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021.
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