A federal judge denied former President Donald Trump’s attempt to get a new trial after a federal jury found him liable for sexual abuse of the writer E. Jean Carroll and defamation.
Trump asked in June for a new trial in the civil case brought by Carroll or to reduce the $5 million in damages awarded to her by a jury — a verdict Trump’s lawyers called “grossly excessive.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that Trump’s arguments in asking for a new trial were “unpersuasive” and that he did not prove that the jury’s May 9 decision was a miscarriage of justice.
“The jury’s unanimous verdict in [the case] was almost entirely in favor of Ms. Carroll,” Kaplan wrote.
Carroll accused Trump of forcing himself on her in a department store changing room during a chance encounter in the mid-1990s, and then of defaming her after she went public with the story in 2019.
Trump’s attorneys argued in the new filing that a $2 million portion of the damages award was excessive because the jury did not find him liable for rape.
But the judge disagreed, noting in his ruling that “the definition of rape in the New York Penal Law is far narrower than the meaning of ‘rape’ in common modern parlance.”
Trump has denied assaulting Carroll and claimed her story was fabricated. She testified that they had been amiably walking through the store, joking during a light conversation, before Trump pushed her against a wall, her head slamming against it, and forcefully penetrated her with his hand and penis. The jury found him liable for sexual abuse, the allegation that he forcefully penetrated her with his hand, but did not conclude she proved liability for rape, having been penetrated by his penis.
“The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word “rape,” Kaplan wrote.
Trump’s attorneys claimed $2.7 million the jury awarded in compensatory damages for defamation were based on “speculation” about how many people viewed a defamatory social media post by Trump in which he disparaged Carroll and denied the allegations. Trump’s filing also claimed the remaining punitive damages related to the defamation were awarded “without due process.”
Roberta Kaplan, an attorney for Carroll who is not related to the judge, said in a statement to CBS News that Carroll “looks forward to receiving the $5 million in damages that the jury awarded her.”
An attorney for Trump did not reply to a request for comment.
Trump has also appealed the verdict and continues to vehemently deny the allegations. Carroll amended a separate, previously filed defamation lawsuit, seeking at least $10 million in new damages. She claimed comments Trump made at a televised town hall — the day after the jury found him liable — were also disparaging.
- Donald Trump
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