Donald Trump’s sexual abuse verdict is a ‘turning point in history’ for survivors, activists say

The president of LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD has said that the verdict in Donald Trump’s civil rape trial can be a turning point in history for survivors.

The nine members of the jury in the civil case found that the former president had sexually abused and defamed columnist E Jean Carroll by claiming her accusations were “a hoax and a lie”, but they did not find him liable of raping her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store. 

Trump must pay Carroll $5m (almost £4m) in damages after the jury of six men and three women deliberated for less than three hours on Tuesday (9 May). 

Carroll, a former advice columnist for Elle, said she ran into the business mogul in Bergdorf Goodman in either late 1995 or early 1996. She claimed he forcefully kissed her and proceeded to rape her in a dressing room, in an incident which lasted less than three minutes. 

In a statement on Instagram, GLAAD president and chief executive, Sarah Kate Ellis, said: “E Jean Carroll’s courage, and her legal team’s expertise, led by LGBTQ icon Robbie [Roberta] Kaplan, must become a turning point in history for all survivors of sexual abuse and torment. 

“Voters have already held Donald Trump accountable for his atrocious, discriminatory presidency and treatment of women and all marginalised communities.”

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E. Jean Carroll (r) leaves court with lawyer Robert Kaplan after her civil case against Donald Trump in New York. (Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

She added: “Jurors and the world at large got to see his disgusting rhetoric on full display, unapologetically bragging about rape and abuse. 

“Media reporting on his ongoing, inexplicable political career must follow Kaplan’s lead and challenge the former president’s lies and abusive behaviour. Voters and the media can follow the jury’s lead to continue holding Trump accountable for his revolting words and actions.”

Wring on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump – who is hoping to win back the White House in 2024 – responded: “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace, a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt of all time.” In another post, he added: “Very unfair trial.”

Donald Trump’s lawyers are reported to be ready to launch an appeal against the verdict.

However, Carroll said: “Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

Lawyer Kaplan – who won a landmark decision for same-sex marriage in 2013 – said that no one, not even the president, is above the law. 

“For far too long, survivors of sexual assault faced a wall of doubt and intimidation,” she added. “We hope and believe today’s verdict will be an important step in tearing that wall down.”

‘Standing up to a bully’

Celebrities and public figures were quick to weigh in on the verdict of the Trump case. 

The First Wives Club star Bette Midler called the outcome a “solid win” while Halloween‘s Jamie Lee Curtis thanked Carroll for “standing up to a bully and finally having his words and deeds meet consequences”.

Many supporters of Trump, however, were unfazed. 

As reported by The Hill, Florida Republican Marco Rubio labelled the case and jury a joke while Oklahoma senator Markwayne Mullin said the former president was unable to get a fair trial in “in any of these liberal states”.

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