Ex-president Donald Trump faces a closely watched civil trial in which he is accused of raping and defaming an American former magazine columnist. The court heard the closing arguments on Monday.
Lawyers for the accuser, E. Jean Carroll, urged the jury to find Trump liable for the alleged sexual assault in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. “No one, not even a former president, is above the law,” said attorney Roberta Kaplan in the Manhattan federal court on Monday.
Carroll sued Trump last year, alleging that he raped her in the changing room of the luxury Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue in either late 1995 or early 1996.
The former columnist for Elle magazine also claims that Trump defamed her when he called her “a complete con job” after she went public with the allegation in 2019. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations and has not been criminally prosecuted.
During the two-week trial, the court heard from Carroll and two other women who claimed they had been sexually assaulted by Trump decades ago. Carroll said from the witness stand that the alleged rape had left her feeling “ashamed” and unable to have romantic relationships. She said it took her more than 20 years to go public because she was “frightened” by Trump.
Trump did not give evidence in court but sat for a sworn deposition last October, in which he called Carroll “a liar” and “really sick person.” Joe Tacopina, Trump’s lawyer, said there was no evidence an assault occurred and accused Carroll of wanting to derail Trump’s 2024 White House race. Tacopina asked the jury to use their “common sense,” saying that if Trump had raped Carroll in a public place, then he would have been “immediately arrested.”
If Trump loses the case, it will be the first time he has ever been held legally liable for an allegation of sexual assault. Carroll’s suit 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.