A New York jury on Friday awarded E Jean Carroll $83.3 million in her defamation trial against Donald Trump.
Carroll will receive $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages. Trump pays Carroll $18.3 million to $11 million in damages to fund campaign to repair reputation. The $7.3 million is for emotional damages caused by Trump’s public statements in 2019. Carroll and her legal team beamed as they left court in a black SUV. They did not answer questions immediately after the court announcement.
Moments after the decision was announced, Trump called it “absolutely ridiculous” on Truth Social and said he would file an appeal.
“I strongly disagree with both rulings and will appeal the entire Biden-directed Witch Hunt centered on me and the Republican Party,” the former president wrote. “Our legal system is out of control and being used as a political weapon. They took away all First Amendment rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”
The decision in federal court in Manhattan came less than a year after Carroll was awarded $5 million in a sexual assault and defamation lawsuit against the former president.
That amount stems from Carroll’s rape accusation against the president in a June 2019 article in New York magazine. The publication published an excerpt of her then-forthcoming book, What Do We Need Men For? A modest proposal.
In that excerpt, Carroll said that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a luxury department store in Manhattan in early 1996. The subject of Trump’s denials — saying, for example, that she lied and was a political operative — became the subject of her 2019 defamation lawsuit against him.
At the time, Carroll could not sue Trump over the alleged assault, as it would have occurred outside the civil statute of limitations. A new New York state law of 2022, the Adult Survivors Act, opened a one-year window for adult accusers to file lawsuits for incidents outside the civil statute of limitations.
Carroll filed another lawsuit, this time over the incident and defamatory statements after Trump’s presidency ended. That suit went to trial first, and the judge in both cases, Lewis Kaplan, ruled that the jurors’ findings — that Trump sexually abused Carroll and defamed her reputation — would be accepted as fact in that trial.
As a result, Trump was unable to refile the sexual assault lawsuit. The jurors were tasked only with weighing monetary penalties for harming Carroll’s reputation — and the sum necessary to prevent Trump from making more defamatory statements.
“I’m here because Donald Trump attacked me, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened,” Carroll said on the stand. “He lied and it ruined my reputation. I expected him to deny it, but say it was consensual, even though it wasn’t. But that’s what I expected him to say.”
She continued: “What really got me about it was that he asked from the White House if anyone had any information about me, and if they did, to come forward as soon as possible because he wanted the world to know what was really going on – and that people like me should pay dearly.”
Trump did not attend Carroll’s first trial, but appeared at the second – her first public face-off with him in a courtroom. Trump’s behavior during courtroom confrontations was in line with his infamously bombastic demeanor, prompting the judge to admonish him.
“Mr. Trump has a right to be here. That right can and will be taken away from him if he’s disruptive, which I’ve been told, and if he doesn’t comply with court orders,” Kaplan warned.
“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to think about removing you from the trial…I understand that you probably want me to do that very much.”
“I’d like that, I’d like that,” Trump retorted with a gesture.
“I know you would, it’s just that you obviously can’t control yourself under the circumstances,” Kaplan said.
The final stages of this trial were marked by another sign of Trump’s legacy: the chaos associated with Covid. On January 22, the trial was postponed because one juror had symptoms of the coronavirus; his lead attorney, Alina Habba, also told Judge Kaplan that he was unwell and had been exposed to Covid.
Trump performed on January 25. Kaplan limited the scope of her questions and his answers in keeping with his earlier ruling that he could not re-object to her claims.
Habba was allowed to ask, “Do you stand by your testimony in the statement?”
“One hundred percent yes,” he said, referring to a statement denying her claims.
“Did you deny the allegation because Mrs. Carroll made the allegation?”
“That’s right. She said something I think is a false accusation. No difference,” Trump shot back. That sparked an objection from Carroll’s camp. Kaplan said everything after “yes, I did” was crossed out.
“Did you ever instruct anyone to hurt Mrs. Carroll with their statements?”
“No. I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency,” Trump said. Carroll’s team again objected. Kaplan thought it was necessary to cross out all the no’s, so jurors were instructed to statements are not taken into account.
In total, Trump’s direct and cross-examination took about two or three minutes.