A New York jury ruled on Tuesday that Donald Trump was liable for the sexual abuse of an American former magazine columnist in the mid-1990s.
The nine jurors rejected E Jean Carroll’s accusation of rape but upheld her other complaints in the closely watched civil trial following less than three hours of deliberations.
The former US president was ordered to pay Ms Carroll a total of $US5 million ($A7.3m) in damages.
The verdict in the lawsuit is the first time Mr Trump has faced legal consequences over sexual misconduct allegations dating back decades and involving a dozen women.
Mr Carroll, 79, sued Mr Trump last year, alleging that he raped her in the changing room of the luxury Bergdorf Goodman store on Manhattan’s Fifth Ave in 1996.
The former columnist for Elle magazine also claimed that Trump defamed her when he called her “a complete con job” after she went public with the allegation in 2019.
Mr Trump, the 76-year-old frontrunner for the Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, has called her case a “hoax” and “a lie.”
Ms Carroll told the two-week-long civil trial that the alleged assault 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 Mr Trump.
Her lawyers called to the witness stand two other women who testified that Mr Trump sexually assaulted them decades ago.
Former businesswoman Jessica Leeds told the Manhattan federal court that Mr Trump groped her in the business class section of a flight in the United States in the 1970s.
Journalist Natasha Stoynoff said Mr Trump kissed her without her consent during an interview at his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2005.
Around a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct ahead of the 2016 election that sent him to the White House.
He has denied all the allegations and has never been prosecuted over any of them. No criminal case can stem from Mr Carroll’s lawsuit.
Porn star case
Trump did not testify during the proceedings, nor did his defence team call any witnesses.
A video of a sworn deposition he gave in October was played to the jury. In it, Mr Trump called Ms Carroll “a liar” and “really sick person.”
His lawyers argued that Ms Carroll invented the allegation “for money, for political reasons, and for status”.
She filed her lawsuit under a New York law that gave victims of sexual assault a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers decades after attacks may have occurred.
The jury was tasked with deciding whether Ms Carroll’s lawyers proved her case by a preponderance of the evidence, a lower burden than criminal trials which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was one of several legal challenges facing Mr Trump that threaten to complicate his bid to regain the presidency.
Last month, he pleaded not guilty in a criminal case related to a hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 vote.
Mr Trump is also being investigated over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state of 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