Trump rape trial concludes as Carroll urges jury to hold him liable for assault

US President Donald Trump sits with his arms crossed during a roundtable discussion on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools during the coronavirus pandemic, in the East Room of the White House on July 7, 2020, in Washington, DC. AFP/File

The highly anticipated civil trial accusing former President Donald Trump of rape and defamation came to a close on Monday, with the lawyers for accuser E. Jean Carroll urging the jury to find Trump liable for the alleged sexual assault. 

Carroll sued Trump last year, alleging that he raped her in a New York department store changing room in the mid-1990s, and that he defamed her when he called her a “complete con job” after she went public with the accusation in 2019.

Roberta Kaplan, one of Carroll’s attorneys, told the Manhattan federal court, “No one, not even a former president, is above the law.”

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’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.

Trump, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, was not present in court but sat for a sworn deposition last October, in which he called Carroll “a liar” and “really sick person.” His defense lawyer, Joe Tacopina, argued that there was no evidence an assault occurred and accused Carroll of wanting to derail Trump’s 2024 White House race. He also 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.”

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.

The jury, consisting of nine people, will begin deliberating on Tuesday. If Trump loses, it will be the first time he has ever been held legally liable for an allegation of sexual assault.

This case is one of several legal challenges facing the 76-year-old Republican as he seeks to regain the presidency in next year’s election. Trump is also being investigated over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, his alleged mishandling of classified documents taken from the White House, and his involvement in the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021.

Around a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct ahead of the 2016 election. He has denied all the allegations and has never been prosecuted over any of them.

Regardless of the verdict, the trial has brought renewed attention to allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump and highlighted the issue of accountability for powerful figures. It remains to be seen what impact this case will have on Trump’s political career and reputation.

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