Breaking down the verdict as jury finds Trump liable for sexual assault and defamationMay 21, 2023
viewer station like you. Thank you. Welcome to "News Hour". A New York
juryfound former President Trump responsible for
assaulting a columnist in a department store in the 1990s and then defaming her, but stopped short of saying Trump raped her. Question jurors deliberated for only a few hours before returning their
verdictand awarding Carol millions of dollars. Carol did not comment on what she said in a statement: "I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and get my life back. Today, the world finally knows the truth. Mr. Trump responded on his truth platform saying: "I have no idea who this woman is.
verdictis an outrage, a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time." Trump's lawyers say they will appeal the verdict. The sociology professor at Northwestern University and an attorney and researcher for the American Bar Foundation joins us along with pbs' correspondent who covered the case. Describe for us what the timing was like and specifically if you had any reaction from E. Jean Carroll herself. Just after 3:00, the
juryentered the courtroom. The judge asked if the jury had reached a verdict. She said yes. An envelope was handed to the judge and there was a change of verdict: although there were only two counts, the jury had to answer 10 questions. the first was whether the jury found by a preponderance of the evidence that
trumphad raped carroll, and the answer was no, but the second question was whether the jury found by a preponderance of the evidence that he had
sexually abused carroll, and the answer was yes.
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breaking down the verdict as jury finds trump liable for sexual assault and defamation...
There were questions about damages, about
defamation. She said it was a scam and a hoax, and the jury said yes there was
defamation, yes there was actual malice, and said Trump had to pay $5 million. The judge had instructed everyone, no outbursts, don't stand up, don't say anything, so the lawyers were quiet, as was Carroll, who is looking straight ahead, but there were a number of young law students from the firm who represented. Carroll, who started knitting. She has long claimed that Trump pushed her against a wall in a department store dressing room and raped her in the 1990s.
The jury decided that she was sexually abused by him, but not raped. How should we look at that distinction? The distinction in the law has to do with penetration. What we know he has spent, he has been found responsible for her is touching, grabbing, groping, for her own sexual pleasure against her will. In a way, it is a distinction without a difference. Someone who is willing to do one over a victim's objection is probably willing to do the other, but from a legal standpoint, it's a different charge. The libel verdict that Andrea just mentioned, the jury found that Carroll proved that she was injured.
What does that mean about the legal limit that was met in this lawsuit? The burden of proof for defamation is higher than finding liability for sexual
assault, so this was -- they found clear and compelling evidence that Donald Trump had slandered her, so that's a higher standard. It means they are more certain that this really happened compared to the preponderance of the evidence, which is a standard of 51%, but it shows that these stories we tell about what rape victims would do if they were actually raped are no longer believed. , and cannot simply affirm listings on survivors of sexual assault. she's covered Mr.
Trump for years. Many women have accused him during those years of sexual misconduct. He has always denied those assignments. Is this case sexually persecuted? He has always denied those accusations. Does this case being successfully pursued open up the possibility of more such cases? Trump has been accused by many women, including many who describe similar circumstances, engaging in light-hearted behavior, joking around and then suddenly pushing them against the wall, touching them, violating his personality in the process. In fact, two other victims describe what happened in this trial that the judge said the jury could use to bolster their credibility.
There was a situation in which we have always said that there were accusations and he had denied them, and he continues to deny them, but what is significant is that a jury has found him responsible. A jury has decided that there was no scam, there was no hoax, that this happened, and that is significantly moving the needle. This case was brought under a new New York law, the adult survivors law that allows women from November 2022 to November 2023 to sue civilly when they are no longer allowed to sue criminally under the statute of limitations. No Victims Until Next November: This is the first case that has gone to trial, and behavior is hard to predict, but certainly, the omen women who are considering filing cases now have an example of a positive outcome in the E. case.
Jean Carroll for her claims. We have to stress here that we're talking about a former president in this case. E. Jean Carroll just received $5 million from the jury here. More generally, when you look at the case and how it played out, what does this say about how courts will view similar cases, sexual assault cases, sexual violence cases when you compare one person's word to the other person's word? There is a growing awareness, understanding and belief that powerful men can also be sex offenders. As a greater understanding and awareness that victims do not follow this script than legitimate rape victims do, and with that understanding, there will be more claims, both civil and criminal, and I hope that will encourage sexual assault survivors to sustain their abusers are held accountable.
This is a former president who is also running again for the office of president. In addition to the statement he saw earlier, his campaign has issued a statement calling this a political witch hunt and a political effort. We have less than a minute left. What do you think we see from former President Trump when it comes to this case? The jury certainly found otherwise. This is the first time that he himself has been found responsible, so now we are once again with Trump in unprecedented territory of having a candidate who wants to occupy the White House who has been found responsible by a jury for sexual assault, and we will. he'll certainly deal with it for as long as he lasts, as long as he's on the campaign trail describing that behavior for this presidential hopeful.
Thank you both. Thank you.
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