By Monserrat Juarez
MANHATTAN—Former President Donald J. Trump was found guilty of sexual abuse in a civil case earlier this month involving American journalist, Elizabeth Jean Carroll.
According to the Washington Post, Carroll filed two lawsuits against Trump. The first lawsuit was based on a claim of defamation which was officially filed in 2019. The second was filed in 2022 under a recently introduced law in New York State. This law allows sexual assault victims the right to file legal motions even after a considerable amount of time has passed since the alleged incident.
In the second trial concerning the accusations of battery and defamation, Trump was declared guilty. Carroll was compensated for damages caused by Trump’s consistent negation regarding the sexual assault that took place in the 1990s.
Even though Trump did not physically present himself in the civil case trial, he did make his presence known on social media. He portrayed Carroll’s legal actions as a ‘hoax’ and a ‘lie’ repeatedly within a social media platform known as Truth Social.
Although Donald Trump was found guilty of sexual assault, the grounds on which he is allowed to run for presidential office are not affected by the verdict in a civil case. With the upcoming presidential race of 2023, there have been claims that the verdict in the defamation case was influenced by Trump’s predicted inclusion in the primaries. Although the verdict has been delivered in favor of Carroll, the former president maintains she is a complete stranger to him.
While Carroll admitted having affiliations with the Democratic party, she assured the jury her political preferences were not influencing her efforts in seeking justice for her traumatic assault.
Furthermore, her goal in winning the trial was to fix her career and public image which was repeatedly invalidated by Trump. Because of his favor within the Republican party, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, claimed Carroll’s political alliance was a determining factor in seeking punitive damages.
The guilty verdict in the sexual assault case did not carry implicit legal hindrances regarding Donald Trump’s ability to run for president. However, Tacopino’s argument was based on the notion that Carroll’s accusations would largely influence the popular vote in the presidential race of 2024.
Regardless of the effect Carroll’s accusations could have on Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions, the prosecution was unable to prove the sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt. The guilty verdict, then, does not extend a formal criminal charge because of the insufficient evidence presented in court. The law allowing sexual assault victims to come forward even after several decades have passed does not guarantee criminal charges if the defendant is not proven unquestionably guilty of rape.
The former president continued calling Carroll a liar after the verdict had been delivered to the public. He personally defended himself by saying that he would not be able to get a fair trial in New York. Trump also promised his attorney would apply for an appeal because of the supposed political bias from the plaintiff.
Jean Carroll’s recent victory regarding the claims of defamation has not been the only legal accusation former President Trump is involved with. The ongoing investigation surrounding the insurrection he led on January 6 of 2021 is another case being brought before him.
Among the legal warfare plaguing Trump, E. Jean Carroll’s victory may signal the beginning of a criminal reputation for the Republican candidate.