Donald Trump ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million, will appeal

Donald Trump was handed a stinging defeat on Friday by a Manhattan jury that ordered him to pay $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll, who said he destroyed her reputation as a trustworthy journalist by denying he raped her nearly three decades ago.

Jurors ordered the former US president to pay $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.

The seven-man, two-woman jury, whose members were kept anonymous, took less than three hours to reach a verdict after a five-day trial in Manhattan federal court. The sum the jury ordered Trump to pay far exceeded the minimum $10 million that Carroll had sought in the case.

Carroll’s case has become an issue in Trump’s campaign to retake the White House in the November election. Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the November US election. Biden beat Trump in 2020.

Trump attended most of the trial, but was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict. He said in a social media post that he will appeal.

E. Jean Carroll, former U.S. President Donald Trump rape accuser, arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for the continuation of the civil case, in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2023. (credit: REUTERS)

Carroll, 80, did not answer questions as she left the courthouse, with her arms around two of her lawyers. Carroll had sued Trump in November 2019 over his denials five months earlier that he had raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

A “shattered” reputation

Trump, 77, maintained that he had never heard of Carroll, and that she made up her story to boost sales of her memoir.

His lawyers said Carroll was hungry for fame and enjoyed the attention from supporters for speaking out against her nemesis.

In May 2023, another jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million over a similar October 2022 denial, finding that he had defamed and sexually abused Carroll. Trump is appealing that decision, and set aside $5.55 million with the Manhattan court during his appeals.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw both trials, said the earlier verdict was binding for the second trial, meaning the only issue for jurors was how much Trump should pay.

Trump has used Carroll’s case and his other legal travails to portray himself as the victim of politically motivated lies and a biased, out-of-control judicial system.

He has separately pleaded not guilty to 91 felony counts in four criminal indictments, including two cases accusing him of trying to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss.

During the Carroll trial, Trump was heard muttering in court that the case was a “con job” and “witch hunt” and that he still did not know who Carroll was, prompting the judge to twice admonish him to keep quiet.

Trump stalked out of the courtroom during the closing argument on Friday by Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, but returned for his own lawyer’s argument.

Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, had argued that Trump acted toward Carroll as though he was not bound by the law.

“This trial is about getting him to stop, once and for all,” she added. “Now is the time to make him pay for it dearly.”

Trump saw “A hoax”

In her own closing argument, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said it was the publication of excerpts from Carroll’s memoir in New York magazine that triggered the attacks, not Trump’s denials that began five hours later. She also argued that Carroll enjoyed her newfound fame and was “happier than ever,” citing her testimony that she had entered a “cocoon of love” from her supporters.

Trump was allowed to testify on Thursday, but spent only four minutes on the witness stand. His brief appearance resulted from Judge Kaplan having forbidden him and his lawyers from revisiting issues that the first trial had settled.

Trump was allowed to confirm he stood behind his October 2022 deposition testimony, which jurors had been shown, in which he called Carroll’s claims a “hoax” and said she was “mentally sick.”

Carroll wrote the “Ask E. Jean” column for Elle from 1993 to 2019, and often appeared on such programs as NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She said those appearances dried up because of Trump.

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