E. Jean Carroll, flanked by her attorneys Shawn Crowley and Roberta Kaplan, outside the Manhattan Federal Court after the verdict in the defamation case against Donald Trump, New York City, January 26, 2024 (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
A jury in New York City has ordered Donald Trump to pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million for a series of defamatory posts and comments in 2019.
The defamations arose from Trump’s sexual assault of Carroll in the changing room of a Manhattan department store in early 1996. In May 2023, a jury awarded Carroll $5 million over the attack. Two months later, as Trump’s legal team unsuccessfully a reduction of the damages, Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the assault constituted rape.
Trump continued to defame Carroll, up to and during this month’s trial. On one day, he put up more than 40 derisive posts on his Truth Social website.
Carroll’s lawyers had sought $10 million over the defamation. But responding to their argument that a large award was necessary to stop Trump’s verbal and written attacks, the jury — taking less than three hours to reach its decision — agreed on $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.
Trump left the courtroom for the day before Judge Kaplan called in the nine-member jury just after 4:30 p.m. The verdict was read out nine minutes later.
“A Huge Defeat for Every Bully”
With Trump’s lawyers slumped in their seats, Carroll, 80, embraced her lawyers. Minutes later, she said outside the courthouse.
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.
Carroll’s lead lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said the verdict “proves that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents”.
Trump’s attorneys complained about Judge Kaplan and said they would appeal.
Trump later snarled on Truth Social that the verdict was “absolutely ridiculous”. He avoided a further attack on Carroll.
The reality TV star attended almost every day of the trial and testified for about five minutes earlier in the week. Throughout the proceedings, he made loud, disruptive comments, bringing admonishments from Judge Kaplan. At one point, he charged out of the hearing.
Meanwhile, he continued the online attacks on Carroll and insulted her at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. During the summations, the account on his Truth Social website put up 16 posts in 15 minutes insulting Caroroll and Judge Kaplan.
In their closing arguments, Carroll’s lawyers said Trump’s actions demonstrated his belief that he could get away with anything:
You saw how he has behaved through this trial. You heard him. You saw him stand up and walk out of this courtroom while Ms. Kaplan was speaking. Rules don’t apply to Donald Trump.