Trump to speak publicly after jury found him liable for sexual abuse as he vows to appeal

The woman who accused Donald Trump of rape has said she is 'overwhelmed with joy' after a civil trial found that he had sexually abused her, Robert Moore reports

Donald Trump is to speak publicly for the first time on Wednesday evening after he was found liable for sexually abusing a writer in 1996.

The former US president, who was also found not guilty of raping his accuser, E. Jean Carroll, will join the television network CNN for a two-hour town hall event, in New Hampshire.

The jury awarded Ms Carroll $5 million (£3.96m) in damages.

Trump said the ruling was “A DISGRACE" and he vowed to appeal over the civil case judgement which could haunt his campaign to regain the White House.

CNN publicly announced the forum last week, which was already expected to be notable given the back-and-forth between the network and Mr Trump in recent years.

Mr Trump has previously called CNN "fake news" and clashed with one of its main hosts, Kaitlan Collins - who is expected to take control of proceedings.

But the event has now taken on greater significance after Mr Trump was found to have sexually abused and defamed the former advice columnist.

The civil case judgement marks the first time a US president has been found liable for sexual assault.

However he cannot face jail time, as the case was a civil lawsuit not a criminal case.

Ms Carroll brought the claims as part of a civil case over an incident at a luxury Manhattan department store more than 25 years ago.

ITV News' Sangita Lal reports on Ms Carroll's first public reaction since the verdict was announced

She had sought unspecified damages, plus a retraction of what she said were Mr Trump's defamatory denials of her allegations.

The former president has denied sexually assaulting Ms Carroll, or even knowing her.

Mr Trump chose not to attend the trial and was absent when the verdict was read.

Ms Carroll nodded hugged supporters in the gallery, smiling through tears.

Speaking to NBC's Today show on Wednesday, Ms Carroll said: "I'm overwhelmed with joy and happiness and delight for the women in this country."

Sitting alongside her attorney Roberta Kaplan, Ms Carroll told broadcaster Savannah Guthrie: "This is not about the money, this about getting my name back."

Asked about what it means to her to have gone through the legal process, Ms Carroll said: "It is a moment which before yesterday, there was a concept of 'the perfect victim'.

"The perfect victim always screams, always reports to the police, always makes note what had happened... and yesterday we demolished that old concept. It is gone. And I am overwhelmed with happiness for the women of [this] country - it's really not about me so much, it's about every woman."

After the verdict was announced on Tuesday, Ms Carroll said Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina approached her to congratulate her. She then said she told him, "he did it, and you know it" before shaking his hand and walking away.

During the interview, Ms Kaplan also claimed Trump's lawyers "have no legitimate arguments for appeal".  

In a written statement released after she left the courthouse, Ms Carroll said she sued Mr Trump to "clear my name and to get my life back", adding: "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.”

Her lawyer, Ms Kaplan, said in a written statement that she hoped her client's case would prove nobody is above the law, "not even the president of the United States".

Mr Trump immediately lashed out with a statement on his social media site following the verdict, claiming again that he does not know Ms Carroll and referring to the result as "a disgrace" and "a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time."

Mr Tacopina told reporters the jury's decision to rule in his favour on the rape claim, but still find him responsible for sexual assault, was "perplexing".

"Part of me was obviously very happy that Donald Trump was not branded a rapist," he said.

He also defended Mr Trump's absence from the trial, saying his client would have entered "a circus atmosphere, and having him be here would be more of a circus".

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Mr Tacopina added: "What more can you say other than 'I didn't do it'. And he said that on the road."

The trial's outcome was seen as a validation for Ms Carroll - one of more than a dozen women who accused Mr Trump of sexual assault or harassment. 

Ms Carroll said she had a chance encounter with Mr Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman store, in Manhattan, New York, in 1996 - across the street from Trump Tower.

She said it was a lighthearted interaction in which they teased each other about trying on a piece of lingerie, before Mr Trump became violent inside a dressing room.

She said he slammed the door, pinned her against a wall, planted his mouth on hers, yanked her tights down and raped her as she tried to break away. Ms Carroll said she ultimately pushed him off with her knee and immediately left the store.

Mr Trump has said he is awaiting the jury's decision 'on a False Accusation'. Credit: AP

"I always think back to why I walked in there to get myself in that situation," she testified, "but I'm proud to say I did get out".

She soon confided in two friends, according to her and them. But she never called police or told anyone else - or noted it in her diary - until her memoir was published in 2019.

Ms Carroll said she kept silent out of fear that Mr Trump would retaliate, out of shame, and out of a sense that other people quietly denigrate rape victims and see them as somewhat responsible for being attacked.

Mr Trump denied it, saying he never encountered Ms Carroll at the store and did not know her. 

He has called her a "nut job" who invented "a fraudulent and false story" to sell a memoir.

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