Trump may have shot himself in the foot by not testifying in the E. Jean Carroll sexual abuse case because its 'very hard' to win without even showing up, ex-prosecutor says

Trump may have shot himself in the foot by not testifying in the E. Jean Carroll sexual abuse case because its 'very hard' to win without even showing up, ex-prosecutor says
Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York.(Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)
  • A Manhattan jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll on Tuesday.
  • Trump declined to testify in person at the trial and instead was golfing in Ireland and campaigning.

Former President Donald Trump was found liable by a Manhattan jury for sexually abusing longtime Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll after refusing to testify in the two-week-long trial.

His decision not to show up and make his case before the jury may have cost him.

"It's very hard for a party to win a case without being present in court," Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and the president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said in a statement Insider.

After deliberating for 2 1/2 hours, a Manhattan jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse against Carroll in an incident that took place in the 1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. The jury did not find Trump liable for rape, which was an option. They awarded Carroll $5 million in total damages.

Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing, responded to the verdict in a post on Truth Social, in which he denied knowing Carroll: "I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS. THIS VERDICT IS A DISGRACE — A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!" Trump plans to appeal the case, according to a longer statement released by his team.


Trump's lawyer argued Carroll's claims were lies and that she and her friends who testified did so because they hated Trump. Jurors apparently weren't convinced, and the fact Trump didn't take the stand may have been a factor.

"Jurors have to take time out of their professional and personal lives to attend court every day – they expect the parties to do the same," Rahmani said. "When a party skips court, it's very hard for them to win, which was proven today with Trump's loss."

Although Trump did not appear in court, a video of his deposition in which he denied the sexual abuse was entered into evidence and played for the jury in court. His lawyer, Joe Tacopina, repeatedly told the jury and had the judge clarify, that the video deposition counted as testimony and should be weighed the same as in-person testimony would be. Still, the jurors may not have felt the same.

Trump, for his part, was golfing in Ireland and holding a campaign event in New Hampshire while the trial played out.

Meanwhile, the judge in the case went to great lengths to ensure Trump had the opportunity to testify. Even after Tacopina, Trump's lawyer, rested his case on Thursday, US District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan gave Trump until Sunday to change his mind and decide to testify, Insider's Laura Italiano reported.


Carroll's lawyer Michael Ferrara emphasized Trump's absence in the closing arguments, telling the jury it wasn't even a matter of "he-said-she-said."

"There wasn't even a 'he said,' because Donald Trump never even looked you in the eye and said she was a liar," he said.

Roberta Kaplan, another lawyer for Carroll, said in a statement following the verdict: "E. Jean Carroll has never wavered in her strength, courage, and determination to seek justice. Donald Trump, on the other hand, failed to even show up in court."