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Jury finds Trump liable for sexual abuse, awards accuser $5M
A jury has found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing advice columnist E

NEW YORK — A jury found Donald Trump liable Tuesday for sexually abusing advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in 1996, awarding her $5 million in a judgment that could haunt the former president as he campaigns to regain the White House.

The verdict was split: Jurors rejected Carroll’s claim that she was raped, finding Trump responsible for a less serious form of sexual assault. But the judgment adds to Trump’s legal woes and offers vindication to Carroll, whose allegations had been mocked and dismissed by Trump for years.

She nodded as the verdict was announced in a federal courtroom in New York City just a few hours after deliberations had begun, then hugged supporters and smiled through tears. As the courtroom cleared, Carroll could be heard laughing and crying.

Jurors also found Trump liable for defaming Carroll after she made her allegations public. Trump chose not to attend the civil trial and was absent when the verdict was read.

Trump immediately lashed out with a statement on his social media site, claiming again that he does not know Carroll and referring to the verdict as “a disgrace” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.” He promised to appeal.

Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, shook hands with Carroll and hugged her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, after the verdict was announced. Outside the courthouse, he told reporters the jury’s decision to rule in Trump’s favor 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.

Carroll was one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment. She went public in 2019 with her allegation that the Republican raped her in the dressing room of a posh Manhattan department store.

Trump, 76, denied it, saying he never encountered 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.

Carroll, 79, had sought unspecified damages, plus a retraction of what she said were Trump’s defamatory denials of her claims.

The trial revisited the lightning-rod topic of Trump’s conduct toward women.

Carroll gave multiple days of frank, occasionally emotional testimony, buttressed by two friends who told jurors she reported the alleged attack to them in the moments and day afterward.

Jurors also heard from Jessica Leeds, a former stockbroker who testified that Trump abruptly groped her against her will on an airplane in the 1970s, and from Natasha Stoynoff, a writer who said Trump forcibly kissed her against her will while she was interviewing him for a 2005 article.

The six-man, three-woman jury also saw the well-known 2005 “Access Hollywood” hot mic recording of Trump talking about kissing and grabbing women without asking.

The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll, Leeds and Stoynoff have done.

The verdict comes as Trump is facing an accelerating swirl of legal risks.

He’s fighting a New York criminal case related to hush money payments made to a porn actor. The state attorney general has sued him, his family and his business over alleged financial wrongdoing.

Trump is also contending with investigations elsewhere into his possible mishandling of classified documents, his actions after the 2020 election and his activities during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump denies wrongdoing in all of those matters.

Carroll, who penned an Elle magazine advice column for 27 years, has also written for magazines and “Saturday Night Live.” She and Trump were in social circles that overlapped at a 1987 party, where a photo documented them and their then-spouses interacting. Trump has said he doesn’t remember it.

According to Carroll, she ended up in a dressing room with Trump after they ran into each other at Bergdorf Goodman on an unspecified Thursday evening in spring 1996.

They took an impromptu jaunt to the lingerie department so he could search for a women’s gift, and soon were teasing each other about trying on a skimpy bodysuit, Carroll testified. To her, it seemed like comedy, something like her 1986 “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which a man admires himself in a mirror.

But then, she said, Trump 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. Carroll said she ultimately pushed him off with her knee and immediately left the store.

“I always think back to why I walked in there to get myself in that situation,” she testified, her voice breaking, “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.

Carroll said she kept silent out of fear that 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.

Trump weighed in on the case from afar, branding it “a made up SCAM” in a social media post early in the trial. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan called the comments “entirely inappropriate” and warned that the ex-president could cause himself more legal woes if he kept it up.

Tacopina told the jury Carroll made up her claims after hearing about a 2012 “Law and Order” episode in which a woman is raped in the dressing room of the lingerie section of a Bergdorf Goodman store.

Carroll “cannot produce any objective evidence to back up her claim because it didn’t happen,” he told jurors. He accused her of “advancing a false claim of rape for money, for political reasons and for status.”

In questioning Carroll, he sought to cast doubt on her description of fighting off the far heavier Trump without dropping her handbag or ripping her tights, and without anyone around to hear or see them in the upscale retailer’s lingerie section.

The lawyer pressed her about — by her own account — not screaming, looking for help while fleeing the store, or seeking out medical attention, security video or the police.

Carroll reproached him.

“I’m telling you he raped me, whether I screamed or not,” she said.

There’s no possibility of Trump being charged with attacking Carroll, as the legal time limit has long since passed.

For similar reasons, she initially filed her civil case as a defamation lawsuit, saying Trump’s derogatory denials had subjected her to hatred, shredded her reputation and harmed her career.

Then, starting last fall, New York state gave people a chance to sue over sexual assault allegations that would otherwise be too old. Carroll was one of the first to file.

Election preview: Three-way Democratic race for commissioner a highlight on Indiana primary ballot

For county auditor and for county commissioner, voters will choose two candidates in each primary and then elect three candidates in the fall.

In three of four such contests on Tuesday’s ballot, candidates are unopposed for their respective party nods — but three Democrats are running for two slots in the contest for county commissioner.

Incumbent Sherene Hess of Indiana is seeking a third term on the board of commissioners, but could wind up an odd-person-out depending on how many votes go to fellow Democrats Justin Reese of White Township and Aaron Lehman of Homer city.

She’s in the middle on the Democratic ballot, with Reese on one side and Lehman on the other.

Sherene Hess

Hess said in announcing her candidacy that she planned to use her many years of work in public service and the relationships that she has developed with federal and state officials as well as business, finance, and nonprofit professionals to tackle these challenges facing rural Indiana County.

She said Indiana County still faces significant challenges, despite progress in bids to attract more businesses with good paying jobs, expand broadband, improve infrastructure, develop a skilled workforce, and increase substance use and mental health treatment services.

Those efforts go beyond the county lines. In January, she stressed mental health issues as part of her role as second vice president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

She also serves on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission executive committee.

Hess cited expansion of reliable, fast internet service as one of her most meaningful accomplishments. She advocated for the county to invest nearly $2.5 million in federal funding in 2020 to build a fiber optic backbone throughout the county. Another $7 million in federal funding will extend the internet further into unserved and underserved areas of the county.

Hess also worked on the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board’s Youth Committee to partner with local employers and school districts. Young adults and high schoolers learn job skills while working summers and after school. The recent construction of Westmoreland County Community College’s White Township campus expanded those programs.

Aaron Lehman

“I’ve lived in Indiana County for 32 years,” Lehman said. That included graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with an education degree and then raising a family in Homer City.

“I’m proud of the work that I’ve done in combating homelessness for families with young children, starting the Homer City Community Garden and Learning Center, and working on local parks,” Lehman said.

Lehman is the president of Homer-Center Parks and Recreation, vice-president of Family Promise of Indiana, and a board member of the Indiana County Inclusion Initiative.

“In Family Promise, we help homeless families bring dignity back to their lives,” Lehman said. “With stability and education we’ve had a success rate of 82 percent.”

As president of Homer-City Parks and Recreation, he oversaw the upgrade of playground equipment at Floodway, Intown and Lucerne parks and new ADA-compliant bathrooms at the borough pool, received a grant for a new pool liner, developed the aforementioned Homer City Community Garden and Learning Center, and oversaw improvements to the tennis and basketball courts.

“For the last 22 years, I’ve been a financial professional, helping clients prepare budgets and plan to reach their goals in retirement,” Lehman said. “I’ll bring that sensibility with me as commissioner.”

Justin Reese

Reese is a student in computer science engineering at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“As a young resident of this county, I know how important it is to create a community where people feel comfortable and confident enough to purchase homes, raise families, and build careers,” Reese posted on a campaign Facebook page on March 1. “I am committed to making Indiana County a place where everyone can thrive.”

He posted that one of his top priorities as commissioner would be to increase funding toward programs that assist those struggling with mental health issues, as well as substance abuse.

“We must ensure that everyone in our communities has access to the care and support they need to lead happy, healthy lives,” Reese said.

“I am also passionate about expanding broadband access in our rural communities,” the IUP student said. “High-speed internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Funding initiatives to bring access to broadband will help to level the playing field and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in our increasingly digital world.”

Republican incumbents R. Michael Keith of Rayne Township and Robin A. Gorman of Brush Valley Township are unopposed for renomination in their respective bids for second terms on the county board.


Four candidates are running for what would be four slots on the November ballot from which three Indiana County auditors would be chosen.

On the Republican side, Eric Miller of Cherryhill Township, a former correctional officer at the Indiana County Jail and more recently second deputy in the Indiana County Treasurer’s Office, is on the ballot with incumbent Auditor Bonni S. Dunlap of Blacklick Township.

On the Democratic side, Barbara Barker, a former Indiana Area school director defeated in a 2021 re-election bid, is seeking an auditor’s nod along with Samuel Bigham of Indiana.

There also are three contests for county row offices, but unless Democrats write in candidates on Tuesday, three Republican incumbents will be unopposed for re-election in November.

Robert F. Manzi Jr. is seeking a new term as district attorney, Randy Degenkolb is seeking a new four-year tenure as prothonotary and clerk of courts, and Robert E. Fyock is running for another term as sheriff.

United school board approves 2023-24 preliminary budget with no tax increase

The United School District board of directors on Tuesday approved the district’s 2023-24 preliminary budget, 6-1, with no tax increase.

The budget includes $23,478,471 in expenditures and $23,210,749 in revenues, resulting in a $267,722 budgetary deficit. The millage rate will remain at 11.156 mills, with no tax increase projected for the seventh consecutive year.

Board member Hunter Overdorff was the lone dissenter in Tuesday’s preliminary budget vote, which he said was due to the budget’s deficit.

“It contained a quarter-of-a-million-dollar deficit,” Overdorff said. “If (that’s) the worst-case scenario, I would feel that would be irreparable to (the) financial course we’re on right now, especially with the shrinking of taxable assets here and with the concern about power plants in our area, particularly the Conemaugh Generating Station.”

In a district statement addressing the preliminary budget, Board President Eric Matava said the deficit was a result of preparing for the worst-case scenario.

“The preliminary budget reflects a projected deficit of $267,722,” Matava said. “This is not uncommon, as budgets are designed to prepare for the worst-case scenario. However, based on our experience in prior fiscal years, we expect we will be able to eliminate this deficit with little or no transfer from our reserve fund.”

Matava said he expects the district’s operating expenses won’t be as much as what’s projected in the budget. Additionally, he said if the state provides the district more funding for the 2023-24 school year, that funding may eliminate the deficit.

“(The preliminary budget) assumes there would be no increase in the funding we’re getting from the state,” Matava said. “We don’t know this, but it’s likely we may get an increase in funding. In that case, that can eliminate that deficit as well.”

Matava said he wanted to thank all the board members who participated in the budget process to come up with the preliminary budget.

“Our ability to maintain our current tax rate while many other districts have had to raise taxes is the result of many collective hours of hard work and planning on the part of our staff, administration and board members to ensure the district’s resources are being managed in a responsible and efficient manner,” Matava said.

Also Tuesday, in a 6-1 vote with Overdorff being the only dissenter, the United school board approved entering into an attorney-client fee contract with Frantz Law Group, of San Diego, Calif., and Dillon McCandless King Coulter and Graham, of Butler, for a class-action lawsuit targeting a number of social media companies.

The lawsuit, which has been joined by a variety of school districts in Pennsylvania and across the nation, targets social media companies such as Meta (Facebook), TikTok, YouTube, etc. for exacerbating a mental health crisis among U.S. youths.

United superintendent Richard Lucas said the district entered the lawsuit to reap potential monetary damages without risking any monetary loss to the district.

“There’s a limited liability or loss on the school district’s end (because) there’s no attorney fees to us,” Lucas said. “(Any fees) would come from the settlement agreement that would come out of the lawsuit itself.

“So, we’re just joining into the class action lawsuit with no real risk to the school district, simply the potential for reward.”

The attorney-client fee contract provides for a contingent fee of 25 percent of any money the district may recover. Litigation expenses will be funded by Frantz Law Group and deducted from any recovery, and the district will not be responsible for any fee of cost reimbursement in the event there is no recovery.

Lucas said if United is awarded damages, that money will be placed in the district’s general fund and used to support students.

In other news Tuesday, the board unanimously passed a number of motions, including:

• Recognizing two booster organizations: the United Varsity Girls Softball Boosters and the United Valley Football Boosters;

• Approving elementary volunteers for the 2022-23 school year: Kelly Gajewski and Donna McAdams;

• Approving the cooperative arrangement for United School District to participate in athletics with Central Cambria for girls’ soccer;

• Electing James Fry as board treasurer for the 2023-24 school year commencing July 1, and ending June 30, 2024, and to approve the Treasurer’s bond in the amount of $25,000 and Liberty Mutual as the corporate surety;

• Appointing Matava and Overdorff as voting delegates to participate in the PSBA 2023 Delegate Assembly;

• Adopting of PATHS Preschool/Kindergarten Classroom Implementation Package in the amount of $1,778 (ESSER Grant funded) for the 2023-24 school year;

• Authorizing up to three United to attend Penns Manor Area High School during the 2023-24 school year to participate in the Penns Manor Area School District’s vocational agriculture program at a tuition cost to United of $8,666 per student;

• Approving the agreement with Citizens’ Ambulance to provide ambulance services for the school district’s students, staff and visitors while on school premises or while participating in school functions or activities at a cost of $3,650 for the 2023-24 school year;

• Approving the agreement between Cameo Physical and Occupational Therapy and United to provide physical and occupational therapy rehabilitation services to United students identified as requiring such services at a rate of $60 per hour for the period of Aug. 1, 2023, to July 31, 2024;

• Acknowledging the receipt of $4,000 by CVS Health (Aetna Better Health Kids) toward the United School District Band Boosters;

• Appointing Dr. Matthew N. Klain, MD, PC, as the school district physician for the 2023-24 school year at a salary of $8,000;

• Appointing Dr. Michael Garver as the school district dentist for the 2023-24 school year at a cost of $2 per examination;

• Accepting the resignation, with regret, of Patricia Berezansky from her position of director of education after 31 years of service with the district.


GIBSON, Rachel Becker, 86, Sun City Center, Fla., formerly Marion Center

RAGER, Theresa Inez “Iney,” 97, formerly New Florence

SIMON, Mary (Semsick), 94, Indiana

STIFFLER, Ronald L., 84, Creekside

More talks take place between PASSHE, faculty union

After two sessions in as many weeks dealing with coach contracts, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are taking another break from negotiations that overall affect some 5,000 faculty and coaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and other state-owned institutions.

In a joint statement, Kathryn Morton of APSCUF and Kevin Hensil of PASSHE said the negotiation teams discussed assistant coaches and continued discussion of the evaluation process during Tuesday’s session.

That followed talks a week ago where the teams discussed camps and clinics, the evaluation process, and other proposals.

The two sides plan to meet again June 5. The current four-year contract between the state universities and APSCUF expires June 30.

Election preview: Judicial races up for grabs in Indiana County

On Tuesday, nominations for four statewide judicial seats will be up for grabs, while in Indiana County two of four magisterial district judgeships are on the ballot in the primary election.

Indiana Magisterial District Judge Guy B. Haberl is retiring in Judicial District 40-2-01, covering all of Indiana Borough as well as White Township districts 4-5 and 6.

Clymer Magisterial District Judge Christopher S. Welch is unopposed on both Democratic and Republican ballots for re-election to another six-year term in Judicial District 40-3-01, covering White Township District 1 as well as Banks, Canoe, Cherryhill, East Mahoning, Grant, Green, Montgomery, Pine, Rayne, South Mahoning, Washington and West Mahoning townships as well as the boroughs of Cherry Tree, Clymer, Creekside, Ernest, Glen Campbell, Marion Center, Plumville and Smicksburg boroughs.

Haberl has three would-be successors who have cross-filed as Democrats and Republicans, AnnMarie Everett, Meghan M. Foulk and Tony Sottile. Everett is No. 1 on both ballots, Foulk and Sottile have alternating positions. In alphabetical order:

AnnMarie Everett

Everett, a native of Indiana, attended Indiana Area High School before going on to earn her undergraduate degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Everett earned her law degree from Duquesne School of Law, where she graduated in 2010. After graduation, Everett served as a public defender for five years while also building a private practice.

“I have a strong sense of fairness and justice,” Everett said. “I pride myself on being able to see both sides of every issue and my ability to assess things fairly based on all of the available information. One of the important attributes of a judge is the ability to see things from many different viewpoints without any preconceived notions. I’m able to look at each case individually, based on the facts, and make a fair judgment.”

Meghan M. Foulk

Foulk, a 16-year resident of Indiana, is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with a degree in political science and psychology, as well as law degree from Pitt. After passing the bar, she clerked for two Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court judges, the Hon. Thomas Dobson in Mercer County, and the Hon. Gregory Olson in Indiana County.

“As someone with deep connections in the community, I am well aware that many people who come before a magisterial district judge may have no experience with the legal system, and that it may be their first and possibly only experience with the legal system,” Foulk said. “That can be both intimidating and frightening. The significance of that fact is not lost on me. I will insist that all parties show the respect that the court and the role of magisterial district justice demands, and likewise, I will offer respect to all involved in the process.”

Tony Sottile III

Sottile is a lifelong resident of Indiana County with more than 32 years of legal experience, as a private practice attorney and also as a prosecutor, dealing with civil, criminal and family law issues.

“My career has prepared me to serve our families on day one,” Sottile said. “I have routinely appeared before our civil courts as a private practitioner, as well as handling numerous criminal proceedings through the District Attorney’s office. But most importantly, I have always maintained a strong sense of fairness, and pledge to ensure fair justice and dignity to those who appear in my district court, should I be elected.”

State Supreme Court

Statewide, one seat is open on state Supreme Court, while two are open on Superior Court and one on Commonwealth Court.

State Supreme Court now has four Democrats, two Republicans, and one vacancy since the death last September of Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat who had been planning to retire.

Two choices are available in each party primary. Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough, 66, is taking on Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Carolyn T. Carluccio, 62, on the Republican side while Superior Court Judges Daniel D. McCaffery and Deborah A. Kunselman are the Democratic choices.

McCaffery touts being the only military veteran now serving on the state’s appellate courts, then prosecuted more than 50 jury trials as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney and spent 16 years as a civil trial attorney with the Montgomery County law firm of Jaffe, Frieman, Schuman, Nemeroff and Applebaum PC. He also touts a long list of women supporters, including Michelle McFall, who chairs the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee.

The first words one sees on Kunselman’s campaign website are “vote pro choice.” She claims “the most experience of any candidate for the Supreme Court with 17 years as a judge,” including expertise in civil, family, juvenile and criminal courts.

In the GOP primary, both candidates tout pro-life connections.

McCullough claims to be the most experienced and equipped judge, touting more than a dozen years on the state appeals court, past experience as a trial judge with the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, and 25 years as an attorney in government, corporate and private sectors.

Carluccio was the first female chief public defender for Montgomery County, and later the first president judge for the Common Pleas Court in that suburban Philadelphia county. She also was an Assistant United States Attorney and the first woman to serve as chief deputy solicitor and acting director of human resources in Montgomery County.

State Superior Court

Contests won’t be a factor until fall for Republicans in the race for state Superior Court.

Republican candidates are Clarion County resident Maria Battista, who was a counsel for the state departments of Health and State and a prosecutor in Franklin and Venango counties, and Harry F. Smail Jr., a judge of the Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court since 2014. He was appointed to that bench by Gov. Tom Corbett and unanimously confirmed by the state Senate.

On the other hand, there are three Democratic candidates, Pat Dugan, a military veteran who has served 15 years on the Philadelphia Municipal Court, along with Timika Lane and Jill Beck. There’s a rematch of sorts there, as Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Lane defeated Pittsburgh attorney Beck in the 2021 Democratic primary, only to lose that fall to Republican Megan Sullivan.

Commonwealth Court

As is the case for state Supreme Court, each party has two choices for one nod for Commonwealth Court.

Republicans have Josh Prince, a Lehigh County attorney, who has crisscrossed the state gathering endorsements, including a January thumbs-up from Westmoreland County Sheriff James Albert, who called Prince “Pennsylvania’s protector of civil liberties and fundamental fairness,” and Megan Martin, a Cumberland County resident who formerly served as parliamentarian of the Pennsylvania State Senate. .

Democrats have Matt Wolf, another military veteran who now is supervising civil judge on the Philadelphia Municipal Court, and Pittsburgh attorney Bryan Neft, who has practiced before state and federal courts in several states, and who also ran unsuccessfully for Superior Court in 2021.


“Feelings are much

stronger than thoughts. We are all led by instinct, and our intellect catches up later.”

Bono, Irish singer- songwriter, born on this date in 1960