Jury deliberating in Trump rape, defamation trial
New York, May 9 (EFE).- The jury tasked with determining whether former President Donald Trump is guilty of committing sexual battery against and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll retired Tuesday to deliberate after receiving instructions from Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has presided over the trial for the past two weeks.
The nine members of the jury – five of whom are men and the identities of whom are not known even by the attorneys by order of Judge Kaplan – must reach a unanimous verdict about whether Carroll provided credible testimony that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a big New York department store in the mid-1990s.
Trump has denied all the charges, famously declaring that Carroll was “not my type.”
If Trump is found guilty of one of the crimes, the jury will then have to determine the amount of damages he will have to pay to Carroll, given that this is a civil trial and not a criminal case.
The judge addressed the jury for some 90 minutes on Tuesday morning, telling them that regarding the battery charge, “all you need is that it is more probable than not” that Trump attacked Carroll to find him liable, that being a significantly lower standard than the one applied in criminal trials of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In any event, even if the jury finds Trump guilty he will not have to serve any prison time, given that this is a civil case.
Kaplan explained to the jury the reason why alleged events that occurred some 25 years ago are being brought to court now, and that is because last year New York state adopted a law providing a “legal window” within which adult survivors of sexual abuse can sue their alleged attackers even though the statute of limitations may have expired.
Kaplan provided each of the jury members with a form with 10 questions to which they must respond yes or no – and later discuss among themselves – and he took his time explaining what sexual aggression means as well as concepts such as “consent,” “unwanted touching” and “use of force” with sexual aims.
He graphically explained that non-consensual penetration is rape, even if it does not culminate in orgasm, along with “forcible touching” if it is perpetrated for “sexual gratification.”
Kaplan reminded the jury members that Trump was also being judged on what he wrote on the social networks when he learned of Carroll’s complaint against him, and why she alleged that those remarks had caused her emotional harm, leaving it up to the jury to decide whether Trump’s words were intended to cause harm.
The judge emphasized that the decisions reached by the jury must be based on “clear evidence” that the nine members have heard during the trial and that they consider were proved in a “convincing” manner, without regard for their own opinions or other commentary they may have heard either from the defense or prosecution attorneys.
Referring to the widespread coverage of the case in the media, Kaplan told the jurors, “Hopefully you have not partaken of any of it, or allowed anybody to communicate it to you.”
“In reaching your decision on the facts, it is your sworn duty to follow all the rules of law that I explained to you,” he said. “I know you’re going to do your duty and render a just and true verdict.”
All of Kaplan’s explanations were made in the presence of Carroll, who attended the Tuesday court session with her lawyers.
Shortly before midday, the judge instructed the jury to retire to a private room in the courthouse to deliberate, where they have at their disposal a screen on which they can consult the many documents offered as evidence in the case, and he encouraged them to consult with him if they have any questions, doubts or concerns.
At and near the courthouse, considerable expectation prevailed among the reporters gathered there, and a small group of half a dozen people – all of them clearly anti-Trump in their sentiments – held signs up for the journalists reading such statements as “We believe … Carroll,” “Lies have consequences” and “Grab Trump before he strikes again.”
Trump, meanwhile, on Tuesday morning on his Truth Social social media account claimed that he was being silenced, writing: “Waiting for a jury decision on a False Accusation where I, despite being a current political candidate and leading all others in both parties, am not allowed to speak or defend myself, even as hard nosed reporters scream questions about this case at me.”
“I will therefore not speak until after the trial, but will appeal the Unconstitutional silencing of me, as a candidate, no matter the outcome!” the former president wrote.
The deliberations could last mere hours or drag on for days, and the jury is scheduled to meet in morning and afternoon sessions until they can come to a unanimous decision.