Trump Found Liable in Civil Lawsuit, to Pay $5 Million

Gary Bai
By Gary Bai
May 9, 2023Donald Trump

Joseph Tacopina, attorney of former President Donald Trump, told The Epoch Times that the former president is planning to appeal the verdict that found him liable for battery and defamation charges in the E. Jean Carroll trial.

It came as a Manhattan grand jury on Tuesday ruled against former President Donald Trump on one count of defamation and one count of battery in a civil case launched against him by Carroll, an advice columnist.

The verdict will not result in jail time because it is a civil case. The jury found that Trump should pay a total of about $5 million in damages to Carroll, including about $3 million for the defamation charge and about $2 million for the civil battery charge.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee who oversaw the trial, announced the verdict after a 9-member jury panel deliberated on the case’s merit for less than three hours.

It concluded a one-week-long civil trial in the Southern District Court of New York, in which Carroll, 79, claims Trump, 76, raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996—committing a battery offense—and, in his denial of the incident, committed libel, a type of defamation in written words.

Trump’s denial of the incident, Carroll’s attorney alleged during the trial, hurt Carroll’s career prospects as a journalist and a writer.

Because the case was brought in civil court, Carroll was required to establish her battery claim by “a preponderance of the evidence”—a legal standard meaning more likely than not—and establish “clear and convincing evidence” for her libel claim. Both standards here are lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement to establish a guilty verdict in criminal cases.

Jurors were tasked with deciding whether Trump raped, sexually abused, or forcibly touched Carroll, any one of which would satisfy her claim of battery. They found that Carroll did not prove that Trump raped her but instead found that Trump sexually abused her. They also found that Trump defamed Carroll.

“Strange verdict,” Tacopina told reporters outside the courthouse. “It was a rape case all along, and the jury rejected that.”

“We’ll obviously be appealing those other findings,” Tacopina said, referring to the defamation and battery counts.

At the time of the alleged offense, she did not report the incident to authorities for fear of backlash from Trump and his supporters, Carroll said during the trial. Tacopina, however, said during closing arguments that the reason Carroll didn’t call the police was that the allegation “would never make it through a police investigation in a million years.”

Carroll’s lawsuit traces back to 2019 when the writer accused then-President Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s. After Trump denied Carroll’s allegations in 2019—saying that “she’s not my type”—Carroll filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of defaming her in the same year, citing those words. That lawsuit bounced around state, federal, and appellate courts in New York and Washington, D.C., without material consequences.

In 2022, the New York state legislature passed the Adult Survivor Act, which amended state law to give victims of certain sexual offenses a one-year window, beginning on Nov. 24, 2023, to file a civil lawsuit against alleged offenders. Carroll filed a second lawsuit on Nov. 24, 2022, under this Act, which went to trial and resulted in Tuesday’s verdict.

Trump has, until the present day, denied all of Carroll’s allegations.

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace – a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!” Trump wrote on Truth Social after the verdict came out on Tuesday.

“The Democratic Party’s never-ending witch-hunt of President Trump hit a new low today. In jurisdictions wholly controlled by the Democratic Party our nation’s justice system is now compromised by extremist left-wing politics. We have allowed false and totally made-up claims from troubled individuals to interfere with our elections, doing great damage,” a Trump campaign spokesperson told The Epoch Times in a statement on Tuesday, referring to Carroll’s case.

“Make no mistake, this entire bogus case is a political endeavor targeting President Trump because he is now an overwhelming front-runner to be once again elected President of the United States,” the spokesperson wrote.

The Epoch Times contacted Carroll’s attorney for comment.

Key Question: Credibility

A central question to the case is whether Carroll’s claim that Trump had sexually assaulted her is credible.

Carroll testified during the trial regarding the alleged incident. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan (unrelated to the judge), said that Carroll’s testimony during the trial was credible, and that “every single aspect of what she said is backed up or corroborated by other evidence.”

The testimony by two other women at trial, who also alleged that Trump sexually assaulted them, established a pattern of misconduct, Roberta Kaplan said. Trump has denied those allegations.

But Tacopina disagreed. He said that Carroll could not recall key details of the alleged offense, and that makes her story “unbelievable.”

“Now she claims she didn’t say the day of the week because she wasn’t 100 percent certain. She tailored her testimony right in front of you, right in front of you,” Tacopina said during the closing argument. “We know reality from fiction.”

A key moment in the trial was when a video of Trump’s deposition was played, whereby the former president was asked about the “Access Hollywood” tape that featured his words: “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Carroll’s attorney argued during the trial that these statements showed Trump’s attitude toward sexually assaulting women.

“What is Donald Trump doing here? Telling you in his very own words how he treats women,” Kaplan said. “It’s his modus operandi, M.O.”

But Tacopina disagreed, saying that Trump’s words do not play into Carroll’s credibility and the case’s merit.

“It’s crude. It’s rude,” Tacopina said. “I’d knock my boy’s teeth out if he talked like that, honestly.”

“But that doesn’t make Ms. Carroll’s unbelievable story believable.”

During the closing argument on Monday, Tacopina doubled down on his statement that Carroll’s case was motivated by political reasons, a claim that Carroll’s attorneys denied.

“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.

Legal Expert Weighs In

Alan Dershowitz, a professor who taught at Harvard Law School for 50 years, told The Epoch Times on May 8 that he believes that Carroll’s case fails based on procedural considerations alone.

“Those cases never should have been allowed to be brought,” Dershowitz told EpochTV’s American Thought Leaders program in an interview, referring to the two cases Carroll brought against Trump.

“The historical purpose of a statute of limitations is to make sure you don’t have to stand trial for something that occurred 25 years ago—in this case, even more than that,” he explained. “How do you remember things? How do you know where you were? Maybe he was in Europe at the time. She hasn’t even given the dates and the times of the year.”

“It’s a case that normally would be thrown out—but again, it’s Donald Trump,” Dershowitz said.

The scholar said he believes that Carroll’s case, along with other legal challenges that Trump is facing, are bolstering Trump’s prospects in the primary election, but will hurt the former president when he goes up against the Democratic nominee in the general election.

“I think that independent voters will look at some of these charges and say, gee, you know, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but of course, where there’s smoke, sometimes there’s arson. And I think a lot of these fires have been set politically, in order to get Trump,” Dershowitz said, echoing the name of his book, “Get Trump,” in which he argues that Trump’s political enemies have been targeting Trump in a politically motivated campaign.

Jan Jekielek and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times