The jury finds Trump responsible for sexual abuse and awards the accuser $5 million

In a momentous ruling, a federal jury in New York City found former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse against advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in 1996. The verdict comes after years of Carroll’s allegations being mocked and dismissed by the former president. Jurors awarded Carroll $5 million, holding Trump accountable for sexual abuse and defaming Carroll over his accusations. Trump wasn’t present in the civil trial, and as soon as he got wind of the verdict, he lashed out on his social media site, referring to the ruling as “a disgrace” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”

According to the jury’s decision, Trump is liable for sexual abuse but not rape, a point that Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, found “bewildering” and “weird.” Tacopina said that it was a circus atmosphere in the courtroom, and having Trump there would have been more chaotic. Trump’s absence didn’t stop the jurors from holding him accountable for his actions against Carroll, a renowned advice columnist. Carroll stated that she’s suing Trump not only to clear her name but also to help other women who have suffered similar mistreatment. She said the verdict “is not just for me, but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

The trial took the lid off of Trump’s conduct towards women, with Carroll providing several days’ worth of testimony backed up by two friends, who testified that she reported the alleged attack to them shortly afterward. It also heard from two other women who shared similar experiences with Trump, and it viewed the notorious 2005 hot-mic recording of “Access Hollywood,” where Trump talked about kissing and groping women without their consent. Despite claims of innocence, this legal setback comes as Trump faces several other legal issues, including criminal indictments in New York City and financial wrongdoing allegations from the state attorney general.

Trump’s absence from the courtroom didn’t go unnoticed, with Carroll laughing and crying as the verdict was announced. Trump supporters hugged him and smiled through their tears, while juror Asa Hutchinson, one of the few vocal critics of Trump in the presidential race, said the verdict was “another example of Donald Trump’s indefensible behavior.” While the verdict might have significant implications for Trump’s presidential aspirations, it remains to be seen what its effect will be. His fellow GOP contenders have maintained stoic silence since the ruling, an indication of their reluctance to cross paths with Trump supporters, who are vital to winning the presidential nomination.

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