A jury awarded E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million on Friday, a scathing and costly rebuke to former U.S. President Donald Trump for his continued social media attacks on the longtime columnist following her allegations which he allegedly sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store.
That award, combined with a $5 million sexual assault and defamation verdict handed down last year by another jury in a case brought by Carroll, brings what Trump must pay her to $88.3 million. Protesting vigorously, he said he would appeal.
Carroll, 80, shook his lawyers’ hands and smiled as the jury of seven men and two women delivered their verdict. Minutes later, she shared a three-way embrace with her lawyers. She declined to comment as she left the federal courthouse in Manhattan, but later released a statement through a publicist, saying: “This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when ‘she is overthrown, and a huge defeat for every tyrant who tried. to keep a woman down.
Trump had left the courthouse earlier in the day, but stormed out of the courtroom during closing arguments read by Carroll’s attorney. He returned for his own lawyer’s closing argument and part of the deliberations, but left the courthouse half an hour before the verdict was read.
“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after. “Our legal system is out of control and is being used as a political weapon,” he said.
Friday’s verdict was the second time in nine months that a civil jury considered Carroll’s allegation that Trump assaulted her in a New York department store in 1996. Another jury last May found Trump responsible for sexual abuse and ordered him to pay 5 million US dollars.
Trump is also awaiting the verdict in a civil fraud trial in New York, in which state lawyers are seeking restitution of $370 million, which they say were ill-gotten gains from loans and deals. using financial statements that exaggerated his wealth.
As for Trump’s ability to pay, he reported having approximately $294 million in cash or cash equivalents in his most recent annual financial statement, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. Testifying at his civil fraud trial last November, Trump bragged, “I have very little debt and I have a lot of money.”
Trump skipped the first Carroll trial. He later expressed regret at not being present and insisted on testifying at the second trial, although the judge limited what he could say, believing he had missed the opportunity to argue his innocence.
He spent only a few minutes on the witness stand Thursday, during which he denied attacking Carroll, then left the court grumbling “this isn’t America.”
This new jury was only asked how much Trump, 77, should pay Carroll for two statements he made as president when answering questions from reporters after the release of excerpts from Carroll’s memoir in a magazine – damages that could not be decided earlier due to legal reasons. calls. Jurors were not asked to reconsider whether the attack on Carroll occurred.
An “unusually high” reward request
Carroll’s lawyers had sought $24 million in compensatory damages and “an unusually high punitive award.” The jury awarded $18.3 million in compensatory damages and an additional $65 million in punitive damages – intended to deter future conduct.
His lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, urged jurors during her closing argument Friday to punish Trump enough to stop a steady stream of public statements calling Carroll a liar and a “moron.”
Trump shook his head vigorously as Kaplan spoke, then suddenly stood up and walked out, taking Secret Service agents with him. His exit came just minutes after the judge, without the jury present, threatened to send Trump lawyer Alina Habba to jail for continuing to speak after he told her she had finished.
“You are about to spend time in the cell. Now, sit down,” the judge told Habba, who immediately obeyed.
The trial reached its conclusion as Trump moves toward victory in the Republican presidential nomination for the third time in a row. He sought to turn his various lawsuits and legal vulnerabilities into an advantage, presenting them as evidence of a militarized political system.
Although there is no evidence that US President Joe Biden or anyone in the White House influenced the legal proceedings against him, Trump’s argument resonated with his most loyal supporters who view the procedures with skepticism.
“He ruined my reputation”
Carroll said at the start of the trial that Trump’s public statements led to death threats.
“He ruined my reputation,” she said. “I’m here to restore my reputation and stop him from lying about me.”
She said she had an electronic fence installed around the upstate New York cabin where she lives, warned neighbors about threats and bought bullets for a gun she keep by his bed.
“I used to just be known as a reporter and I had a column, and now I’m known as the liar and the fraud and the deranged person,” Carroll testified.
Trump’s lawyer, Habba, told jurors that Carroll enriched herself from her accusations against Trump and achieved the fame she dreamed of. Habba said no damage was warranted.
To support Carroll’s claim for millions in damages, sociologist Ashlee Humphreys of Northwestern University told the jury that Trump’s statements in 2019 caused between $7.2 million and $12.1 million in damages to Carroll’s reputation.
When Trump finally testifiedKaplan gave him little room to maneuver, as Trump could not attempt to revive issues settled in the first trial.
“It’s a very well-established legal principle in this country that prevents disappointed litigants from remaking their case,” Kaplan said.
“He lost it and he’s bound. And the jury will be told that, regardless of what he says in court today, he did it, as far as they’re concerned. is the law,” Kaplan said shortly before Trump. testified.