Today, May 9, 2023, journalist E. Jean Carroll won her highly publicized civil suit against former president Donald Trump. The jury in a Manhattan federal court determined that Trump was liable for the defamation and sexual abuse of Carroll during the mid-1990s, awarding Carroll a total of $5 million.
In the suit, which went to trial on April 25, Carroll alleged that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan during the mid-1990s, which he denied. The two had bumped into one another while shopping and Trump asked Carroll to help him pick out a gift, she said. Carroll testified that he then coaxed her into a fitting room, where, she said, he slammed her head against the wall and raped her. (The jury did not find Trump liable for rape.)
At the time, Carroll confided solely in her close friends, who she swore to secrecy out of fear that Trump would use his fame and influence to derail her career, she explained later. She didn't publicly recount the assault until 2017, when the #MeToo movement and the New York Times' groundbreaking exposé revealed Harvey Weinstein's longtime abuse of women in Hollywood.
In her suit, Carroll testified that Trump incited a barrage of online harassment, including threats and social media posts. In 2022, Trump also posted online that Carroll's claims were "a hoax," "a lie," and a "complete con job," which Carroll cited as instances of defamation in her suit. These actions took a toll on Carroll's well-being, harmed her reputation, and brought down her career. Previously, Carroll had been a journalist at ELLE, where she wrote a popular, longstanding advice column. She'd also written for magazines like Esquire and Outsider, and for Saturday Night Live.
During the trial, two women also claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Trump testified before the jury. They are among dozens of women who've accused Trump of sexual assault and/or misconduct, a list that includes his one of his ex-wives, several Miss Universe contestants (including women who were teenagers at the time of the alleged assaults), and a woman who claims Trump and Jeffrey Epstein raped her repeatedly when she was only 13 years old. The former president denies the claims.
Trump, continued to claim during the trial that Carroll's claims had no merit and that they were a political ploy to destroy his 2024 presidential campaign. He also asserted that Carroll was not "his type," a claim that was refuted by Carroll's lawyers, who played a 2022 video during which Trump mistook Carroll for his ex-wife, Marla Maples.
The jury, comprised of six men and three women, listened to these arguments before determining that Carroll's lawyers presented sufficient evidence to prove that Trump defamed and assaulted her. As a result, Trump is required to pay Carroll $5 million in punitive and compensatory damages. However, because Carroll's suit was a civil one—not a criminal one—Trump will not be facing jail time as a result. He is, however, currently facing separate criminal charges for allegedly falsifying business records and tampering with election results in Georgia, along with other civil suits and federal investigations related to his conduct.
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Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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