WASHINGTON: A New York civil jury on Friday ordered former US President Donald Trump to pay a staggering $ 83.3 million in damages to the writer-journalist E.Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him of rape in a case that has rolled over into a political minefield.
Trump has repeatedly denied the allegation that he sexually assaulted Carroll in a department store dressing room in 1996, but the jury determined that in course of his rebuttal he had disparaged her, and ordered him to pay her $7.3 million for “emotional harm,” $11 million for “reputational damages,” and $65 million in “punitive damages.”
The amount, which is more than three times what Carroll’s legal team sought, comes on top of a $ 5 million a different jury awarded last year in the initial defamation trial that determined Trump sexually her abused Carroll and later denigrated when she made the allegation public when he was President.
Trump insists he has never met Carroll, an Elle magazine advice columnist who is now 80, saying she wasn’t his “type”, which her lawyers said was tantamount to suggesting she was too ugly to assault.
Although the alleged assault took place in 1996, Carroll was able to file a suit in November 2022 under a newly legislated Adult Survivors Act, a New York law allowing sexual-assault victims to file civil suits beyond expired statutes of limitations. She first made the allegation in a 2019 article in New York magazine when Trump was President, whereupon he immediately unloaded on her, going on to call her crazy.
Carroll’s lawyers argued that Trump’s effort to wield the power of the US government as the President to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent. The jury of seven men and two women agreed that he had acted out of “hatred, ill will, or spite” when making public statements denying Carroll’s allegations, including calling them “fiction.”
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“Decades ago, the now President of the United States raped me. When I had the courage to speak out about the attack, he defamed my character, accused me of lying for personal gain, even insulted my appearance. No woman should have to face this. But this lawsuit is not only about me. I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” Carroll had said while explaining her decision to go public and sue.
Trump stormed out of the court on Friday towards the end of the trial, reportedly raging that “this is not America.” He was on his plane when the jury returned the stunning verdict after deliberating for three hours.
In angry posts on Truth Social, the former President slammed verdict as “absolutely ridiculous!” and part of a “Biden Directed Witch Hunt” to politically target him, saying he will appeal both decisions.
Carroll on her part issued a statement saying, “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.”
On a stormy final day, the presiding judge Lewis Kaplan warned Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba he would send her to prison after she sought to show slides ostensibly aimed at exonerating her client without presenting them as evidence to the court beforehand as per procedure.
“Judge Kaplan refuses to allow the Anderson Cooper Interview on CNN of E. Jean Carroll wherein Carroll says, “Rape is sexy,” and numerous other things that totally exonerate me. Judge Kaplan is refusing me my Constitutional Right to Due Process, to defend myself against this False Accusation. This is a one-sided trial, where the other side is allowed everything, and we are allowed nothing. He is an extremely abusive individual, the likes of which few have seen before!” Trump posted later.
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The former President has had to set aside $5.5 million to a court-controlled account last year towards satisfying the judgment from the first defamation lawsuit, and he will likely have to do the same in this case though Carroll would not have access to the funds until after all appeals, including possibly to the US Supreme Court, are decided.
Friday’s verdict comes amid a raft of legal cases Trump faces during an election year, including a civil fraud trial relating to his business, criminal indictments relating to election interference, and crucially, a US Supreme Court hearing on whether the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination can appear on the November ballot.
From most accounts, Trump’s legal troubles are consolidating the support from his MAGA base, one reason why he reportedly decided to make a personal appearance in court during the final stages of the trial. So fearful is the legal system of the backlash from his supporters that Judge Kaplan apparently advised jurors to remain anonymous before dismissing them, saying “my advice to you is that you never disclose you were on this jury.”
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Watch Trump ordered to pay $83 million in damages to E Jean Carroll in rape lawsuit verdict Source