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In Trump E. Jean Carroll verdict, former president ordered to pay $83 million

The Federal Civil Jury rendered its decision on Friday, advising former President Donald Trump to pay a staggering $83.3 million in damages to defamation plaintiff E. Jean Carroll. In 2019, Carroll accused Trump of sexual assault, a claim he vehemently denied, stating, “People should pay a hefty price for such false accusations.” Carroll’s attorneys had sought substantial damages from the anonymous twelve-member jury against the former president, and the panel did not disappoint: awarding Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages and an additional $65 million in punitive damages. After days of testimonies and deliberations, the jury reached its verdict in just three hours.

Before the verdict was announced, Trump, who had left the Manhattan courtroom, expressed his displeasure on social media and vowed to appeal the jury’s decision. “Our legal system is out of control and being used as a political weapon,” he wrote on Truth Social. The verdict drew a smile from Carroll, who commented in a statement on Friday night, “This is a significant victory for every woman who stands tall against being silenced, and a major defeat for every perpetrator attempting to suppress a woman.”

Sparks in the Carroll Verdict: Nikki Haley Criticizes Trump’s Presidential Ambitions

Preparation for the Election: Explore the contenders for the presidential race and compare their stances on key issues in our voter guide. Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and the last Republican nominee against Trump’s presidential ambitions, strongly criticized the jury’s decision to assail Trump over allegations of sexual assault. Just weeks before their face-off in the GOP primary, Haley wrote on Ex (formerly Twitter), “Donald Trump wants to become the likely Republican candidate and we are talking about $83 million in damages. We are not discussing setting a precedent. We are not talking about handling monetary disputes. America deserves better than Trump and Biden.”

Earlier on Friday, Carroll’s lead attorney, Roberta Kaplan, had demanded a minimum compensation of $24 million from the jury, asserting that Trump should face significant, albeit unspecified, punitive damages. “Impose a penalty and restrain him,” she urged. From Thursday night until Friday afternoon, Trump posted 17 messages or shares on Truth Social, totaling around 750 words. The posts criticized Carroll’s case, questioned its truthfulness, and attacked the credibility and impartiality of the judge and the jury. As part of the awarded damages, Carroll will have to allocate $18.3 million for compensatory damages, $11 million for restoration of her reputation, and $7.3 million for pain and suffering. Stephanie Grisham, former White House Press Secretary serving under Trump, commented, “This is a big day for E. Jean Carroll, but also for all victims of sexual assault.”

Further Allegations Possible in E. Jean Carroll Case Against Trump

Friday’s defamation verdict includes an additional $5 million in punitive damages, reinforcing Trump’s prior obligation to pay Carroll. In May last year, the jury found him liable for sexual assault, and in 2022, he defamed the author when he labeled her allegations as “a hoax.” The new ruling addresses Trump’s early denials in 2019 when Carroll first publicly accused him of raping her in the mid-1990s in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman department store.

Justice Louis Kaplan advised the jury members—seven men and two women—to speak freely in public but refrained from revealing the identity of any other jury member. He further cautioned, “I suggest you never disclose that you were part of this jury, and I won’t say anything more about it.” Carroll’s attorneys argued that Trump, through his lengthy statements as a presidential candidate, had prejudiced his supporters against her. In denying her accusations and suggesting he took legal actions to sell books, he provided a series of messages that Carroll presented as examples of the attacks she endured. One assailant reportedly told Carroll to “put a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger,” while another suggested that falsely accusing someone of rape should be punishable by hanging or firing squad. When Carroll first read a death threat from one of Trump’s supporters during his second impeachment trial, she fell silent, testifying, “I thought I was going to get shot.”

Trump Engages in Second Defamation Case, Tackles Social Media Attacks and Witness Testimonies

Although Trump did not participate in the first defamation case, he actively engaged in the second one. He provided brief testimony on Thursday, although Justice Kaplan restrained him when he attempted to comment on Carroll during the trial. The judge had previously ruled that, in light of the prior decision, Trump could not deny attacking Carroll during his testimony. Trump continued to assail Carroll on social media throughout the entire trial. On Thursday night, he posted a video labeling the case a “scam.”

In the latest defamation trial, Trump’s involvement contrasts with his approach to the first one. He gave brief testimony on Thursday, despite Justice Kaplan restricting his comments about Carroll. Initially barred from denying the attack during the trial, Trump actively participated this time, continuing his social media attacks on Carroll during the entire proceedings. Trump’s Thursday testimony led to Kaplan’s rebuttal, arguing that Trump, in the light of the prior verdict, could not contest his attacks on Carroll. Trump persisted in criticizing Carroll on social media, posting a video Thursday night declaring the case a “scam.”

The legal battle between Carroll and Trump reflects broader tensions surrounding defamation, social media, and the consequences of influential figures’ statements. As the case concludes, the impact on future defamation claims, public figures’ social media conduct, and the broader #MeToo movement remains uncertain.

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