Trump ordered to pay $83.3 million in defamation suit, Trump to appeal
A Manhattan jury ruled on Friday that former President Donald Trump must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in a defamation lawsuit. Carroll accused him of raping her and subsequently ruining her reputation by denying the allegation.
The jury reached their verdict in under three hours following a five-day trial in Manhattan federal court, awarding Carroll significantly more than her initial $10 million claim. Trump announced his plans to appeal.
The case has become a focal point in Trump's bid to return to the White House. He is the leading Republican candidate to challenge President Joe Biden, who defeated him in 2020. Trump, who attended most of the trial, was absent from the courtroom when the verdict was announced. He later condemned the legal system on social media, calling it a political weapon against him.
Carroll, 80, expressed satisfaction with the verdict. "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down," she said. Carroll, a former advice columnist for Elle magazine, sued Trump in November 2019, claiming he raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.
Carroll testified that Trump's denials shattered her reputation as a respected journalist. The jury, composed of seven men and two women, awarded her $18.3 million for reputational harm and $65 million in punitive damages.
Trump, 77, has consistently denied knowing Carroll, dismissing her allegations as a ploy to promote her memoir. His lawyers argued that Carroll sought fame and enjoyed the attention from her allegations. In May 2023, another jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million for a similar defamation claim. Trump is appealing that decision as well and has reserved $5.55 million with the Manhattan court for the appeal process.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, overseeing both trials, noted the earlier verdict applied to the second trial. He instructed the jurors to decide solely on the compensation amount.
Alina Habba, leading Trump's defense, framed the verdict in political terms and anticipated a successful appeal. Trump, who briefly left the courtroom during closing arguments, has portrayed himself as a victim of politically motivated prosecutions. He faces additional legal challenges, including four criminal indictments and a civil fraud lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
During the trial, Trump's outbursts led to reprimands from the judge. Carroll's lawyer Kaplan argued for significant compensation, while Habba contended that Carroll's memoir publication, not Trump's denials, triggered the controversy.