Ex-president Donald Trump has been embroiled in a high-profile civil trial, accused of rape and defamation by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll. The trial has garnered significant attention and has been closely watched by the public, with the court hearing closing arguments on Monday.
Carroll’s lawyers urged the jury to find Trump liable for the alleged sexual assault that took place in the mid-1990s at a New York department store. Attorney Roberta Kaplan emphasized that no one, not even a former president, is above the law.
The former columnist for Elle magazine alleges that Trump raped her in the changing room of a luxury store on Fifth Avenue in the mid-1990s. She also claims that Trump defamed her when he called her “a complete con job” after she went public with the allegation in 2019.
During the two-week trial, Carroll and two other women testified, claiming that they had been sexually assaulted by Trump decades ago. Carroll said that the alleged rape had left her feeling “ashamed” and unable to have romantic relationships. She added that she waited over 20 years to go public because she was afraid of Trump.
Trump did not testify in court but sat for a sworn deposition last October, during which he called Carroll “a liar” and a “really sick person.” His lawyer, Joe Tacopina, argued that there was no evidence of an assault and accused Carroll of trying to derail Trump’s 2024 White House race. Tacopina asked the jury to use their “common sense” and suggested that if Trump had raped Carroll in a public place, he would have been “immediately arrested.”
If Trump is found liable, it will be the first time that he has ever been held legally accountable for an allegation of sexual assault. Carroll’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for “significant pain and suffering, lasting psychological and pecuniary harms, loss of dignity and self-esteem, and invasion of her privacy.” It also asks that Trump retract his comments.
This case is just one of several legal challenges facing the 76-year-old Republican as he seeks to regain the presidency in next year’s election. He recently pleaded not guilty in a criminal case related to a hush-money payment made to a porn star just before the 2016 vote. Additionally, Trump is being investigated over his alleged mishandling of classified documents taken from the White House, his involvement in the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021, and his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state of Georgia.
As the nine-person jury begins deliberating on Tuesday, many are watching closely to see how this trial will impact Trump’s future legal battles and political aspirations.