Trump ordered to pay $83.3m to E Jean Carroll in defamation case

Payout exceeds the $10 million the writer initially asked for

Former US president Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on January 26. EPA
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A federal jury on Friday ordered Donald Trump to pay $83.3 million in damages to E Jean Carroll, the writer who accused the former US president of destroying her reputation as a trustworthy journalist by denying he raped her nearly three decades ago.

The seven-man, two-woman jury needed less than three hours to reach the verdict.

The payout far exceeded the minimum $10 million that Ms Carroll had been seeking.

The jury awarded her $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.

Ms Carroll sued Mr Trump in November 2019 over his denials five months earlier that he had raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

Mr Trump claimed that he had never heard of Ms Carroll, and that she made up her story to boost sales of her memoir.

His lawyers said Ms Carroll was hungry for fame and enjoyed the attention from supporters for speaking out.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a post on the Truth Social platform after the verdict was revealed.

“I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden-directed witch hunt focused on me and the Republican Party. Our legal system is out of control, and being used as a political weapon.”

Another jury last May ordered Mr Trump to pay Ms Carroll $5 million over a similar October 2022 denial, finding that he had defamed and sexually abused Ms Carroll. Mr Trump is now appealing that decision.

In the current trial, Ms Carroll said Mr Trump “shattered” her reputation as a respected journalist who told the truth.

She also said punitive damages were appropriate, in part to keep Mr Trump from repeating his denials.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw both trials, said the earlier verdict was binding for the second trial, meaning the only issue for jurors was how much Mr Trump should pay.

Mr Trump, a Republican, has used Ms Carroll's case and his other legal travails to bolster his campaign to retake the White House in the November election in a likely showdown against Democrat Joe Biden, who beat him in 2020.

Ms Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, argued that Mr Trump acted as though he was not bound by the law.

“This trial is about getting him to stop, once and for all,” she added. “Now is the time to make him pay for it dearly.”

On Thursday, Mr Trump spent only four minutes defending himself on the witness box after Judge Kaplan forbade him and his lawyers from revisiting issues that the first trial had settled.

Mr Trump was allowed to confirm his October 2022 deposition testimony, which jurors had been shown, in which he called Ms Carroll's claims a “hoax” and said she was “mentally sick”.

Updated: January 28, 2024, 8:37 PM