E. Jean Carroll elated at verdict that Trump sexually abused her
By Jonathan Stempel and Jack Queen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll said on Wednesday she felt "fantastic" after a jury a day earlier found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming her, and awarded her $5 million in damages in her civil lawsuit against the former U.S. president.
The verdict in Manhattan federal court represented a fresh legal setback for Trump as he seeks to regain the presidency in 2024. It also provided vindication for Carroll, 79, who in 2019 publicly accused Trump, 76, of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.
While jurors did not find that Trump raped Carroll, it awarded damages over the incident and over a post last October on Trump's Truth Social platform in which he called Carroll's claim a "complete con job," hoax and lie.
"I feel fantastic. Yesterday was probably the happiest day of my life," Carroll told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Trump, who did not attend the trial, plans to appeal.
In a Wednesday post on Truth Social, Trump wrote: "I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN, WHO MADE A FALSE AND TOTALLY FABRICATED ACCUSATION, IS. HOPEFULLY JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED ON APPEAL!"
Accompanied by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, Carroll said on "Good Morning America" that she felt "shaken" while Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina challenged her account during two days of cross-examination, but felt strong because she knew she was telling the truth.
"He said terrible things about me," Carroll said, referring to Trump, "dragged me through the mud, ground my face in the dirt."
Carroll described holding hands with her lawyer as the verdict was read.
"Her hand was ice cold, ice cold," Carroll said. "And when that jury said, 'Yes,' we looked at each other, and that was the moment. It was such an overwhelming moment."
Asked during a separate appearance on CNN whether she expects Trump to pay her, Carroll said, "This is not about the money - not about the money. This is accomplishing something that I set out to do many years ago to get my name back, and that's what we did."
Tacopina told reporters on Tuesday that he will appeal the verdict based on what he called unfair rulings by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan including allowing jurors to hear the "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump describes grabbing women's genitals.
"We made many motions that we thought would create issues for appeal and we're going to employ them," Tacopina said.
Tacopina also said he would seek a stay of a final judgment pending appeal, which if granted would mean Trump would not have to immediately pay the damages award.
Carroll's lawyer Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, called Trump's chance of success in his appeal "absolute zero," saying the judge in the case went out of his way to ensure a fair trial.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a victims' rights attorney who was not involved in the case, called Trump's chances on appeal slim.
"The allegations by Ms. Carroll were subject to a very legitimate adversarial process, the case was overseen by an experienced and competent trial judge and it was litigated by competent attorneys on both sides," Simpson Tuegel said.
The appeals process could potentially take years, Simpson Tuegel said.
Trump faces a host of legal issues. He pleaded not guilty last month to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records relating to a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 U.S. election, which was aimed at suppressing publication of her claims of a sexual encounter with him.
Trump separately faces two criminal investigations overseen by a U.S. Justice Department special counsel into his keeping classified documents after leaving office and his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. He also faces a criminal investigation by a county prosecutor in Georgia relating to his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss in that state.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in all those matters and has called himself the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)