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News / Nation & World

Judge reject’s Trump’s bid for a new trial in $83.3 million E. Jean Carroll defamation case

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press
Published: April 25, 2024, 3:12pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge in New York rejected Donald Trump’s request for a new trial on Thursday after a jury awarded $83.3 million in damages to a longtime magazine columnist who sued the former president for defamation for calling her claim that he had sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store a lie.

The judge rejected the former president’s claims that the compensatory and punitive damages awarded to writer E. Jean Carroll in January were excessive.

The January verdict came after Carroll, 80, an author and former advice columnist for Elle magazine, testified that Trump’s public statements about her had led to death threats.

Judge Lewis Kaplan said in his ruling Thursday that the jury was entitled to find that “the degree of reprehensibility” of Trump’s attacks against Carroll on social media was high.

“Far from being purely ‘defensive,’ there was evidence that Mr. Trump used the office of the presidency — the loudest ‘bully pulpit’ in America and possibly the world — to issue multiple statements castigating Ms. Carroll as a politically and financially motivated liar, insinuating that she was too unattractive for him to have sexually assaulted, and threatening that she would ‘pay dearly’ for speaking out,” Kaplan said.

The decision was the second time that a civil jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that an encounter with Trump in 1996 in a Bergdorf Goodman’s dressing room ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.

A different jury awarded Carroll $5 million in May 2023. It found Trump not liable for rape, but responsible for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her by claiming she made it up. He is appealing that award as well.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that she was “pleased though not surprised” by the decision from the judge, who is no relation.

A spokesperson for Trump attorney Alina Habba said she was confident that the decision would be overturned on appeal.

The decision came as Trump, the presumed Republican candidate for president, spent the day in a criminal courtroom where he is on trial for hush money payments allegedly made to an adult film star in a scheme to cover up negative stories Trump feared would hurt his 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty and says the stories were false.