Trump had been accused by the plaintiff of serious sexual assault including rape (digital penetration) following a chance encounter at a Manhattan department store. Trump had denied the allegation in its entirety. The jury found he had sexually abused and defamed the former magazine writer but not raped her.
The plaintiff gave evidence and was cross-examined. She was asked why she had not “screamed” at the time of the sexual assault? This has caused some considerable controversy because many a survivor of sexual assault would say that at the time they freeze physically and mentally. This often fees into survivor guilt because they struggle to come to terms with the fact they did not resist. The reality is they could not resist because their mind and body prevent them from doing so.
Unlike in England and Wales this was a jury trial. It is very unusual and only in certain libel cases would a jury hear a civil case (not to be confused with a criminal case) would there be a jury to determine whether the claimant (plaintiff) had proved their case. In England and Wales a civil case is heard by a judge alone.
Another interesting aspect is that the jury decided on the award of damages which is very different to the position in this country.
In a civil claim for damages in this country judges determine compensation by reference to precedent. They look to see what has been awarded in not dissimilar cases. It is probably a truism to say compensation levels in the UK for sexual abuse are low and are certainly far lower than in the US.
Had the case been heard here in the UK would the outcome have been different? Possibly not albeit the case would have been heard by a judge alone without a jury.
The judge would have had to have been satisfied that the plaintiff had proved her allegations beyond reasonable doubt. If Trump declined to go into the witness box and be cross-examined, then the odds of successfully defending the claim would not be favourable unless the plaintiff’s evidence had been discredited. We must not lose sight of the fact that it is for the claimant/plaintiff to prove their case; the defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence.