Trump Appeals Verdict in E. Jean Carroll Civil Case

Trump Appeals Verdict in E. Jean Carroll Civil Case
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association Convention in Indianapolis, on April 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Gary Bai

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday appealed a Manhattan jury’s verdict in a civil case that he sexually abused and defamed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

Trump’s appeal was the latest update in a legal clash between Trump, 76, and Carroll, 79, who accuses Trump of having raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996.

It came two days after a jury in a Manhattan federal court found that Trump did not rape Carroll but instead sexually abused her—committing a battery offense—and, in his denial of the incident, committed libel, a type of defamation in written words. The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

Because the case was brought in civil court, Carroll was required to establish her battery claim by “a preponderance of the evidence”—a legal standard meaning more likely than not—and establish “clear and convincing evidence” for her libel claim. Both standards here are lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement to establish a guilty verdict in criminal cases.

After the court announced the verdict on Tuesday, Trump’s attorney Joseph Tacopina told The Epoch Times that Trump plans to appeal the case. Court records showed on Thursday that Trump notified the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he was appealing the verdict.

“Strange verdict,” Tacopina told reporters outside the courthouse on Thursday. “It was a rape case all along, and the jury rejected that.”

Carroll, a former columnist at Elle magazine, said that she felt “fantastic” after the verdict in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday.

Trump, on the other hand, protested the verdict. He has, to today, denied all of Carroll’s allegations.

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace—a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!” Trump wrote on Truth Social after the verdict came out on Tuesday.

During a Wednesday town hall hosted by CNN, the former president said that Carroll’s story is “made-up” and called his accuser a “whack job.”

In response to those comments, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, told The New York Times in an interview on Thursday that Carroll is weighing launching another lawsuit against Trump.

The Lawsuit

Carroll’s lawsuit traces back to 2019 when the writer accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s.

At the time of the alleged offense, Carroll did not report the incident to authorities for fear of backlash from Trump and his supporters, Carroll said during the trial.

Tacopina, however, said during closing arguments that the reason Carroll didn’t call the police was that the allegation “would never make it through a police investigation in a million years.”

After Trump denied Carroll’s allegations in 2019—saying that “she’s not my type”—Carroll filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of defaming her in the same year, citing those words. That lawsuit bounced around state, federal, and appellate courts in New York and Washington, D.C., without material consequences.

In 2022, the New York state legislature passed the Adult Survivors Act, which amended state law to give victims of certain sexual offenses a one-year window, beginning on Nov. 24, 2022, to file a civil lawsuit against alleged offenders. Carroll filed a second lawsuit on Nov. 24, 2022, under this Act, which went to trial and resulted in Tuesday’s verdict.

In a statement written to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson of the Trump campaign said that the case was brought in a jurisdiction “wholly controlled by the Democratic Party” and that America’s justice system is “now compromised by extremist left-wing politics.”

“We have allowed false and totally made-up claims from troubled individuals to interfere with our elections, doing great damage,” the spokesperson said, referring to Carroll and her case.

“Make no mistake, this entire bogus case is a political endeavor targeting President Trump because he is now an overwhelming front-runner to be once again elected president of the United States,” the spokesperson wrote. Trump is now the front-running Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

Alan Dershowitz, a law professor who taught at Harvard Law School for over 50 years, told The Epoch Times that he believes the case fails under procedural considerations alone.

“Those cases never should have been allowed to be brought,” Dershowitz told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program in an interview on May 9, referring to the two cases Carroll brought against Trump.

“The historical purpose of a statute of limitations is to make sure you don’t have to stand trial for something that occurred 25 years ago—in this case, even more than that,” he explained. “How do you remember things? How do you know where you were? Maybe he was in Europe at the time. She hasn’t even given the dates and the times of the year.”

“It’s a case that normally would be thrown out—but again, it’s Donald Trump,” Dershowitz said.

The Epoch Times contacted Carroll’s attorney for comment.

Jan Jekielek and Reuters contributed to this report.