Donald Trump was ordered by a federal jury on Friday to pay $83.3 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll, who accused the former U.S. president of destroying her reputation as a trustworthy journalist by denying he raped her nearly three decades ago.
Carroll, 80, sued 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.
Trump, 77, claimed that he had never heard of Carroll, and that she made up her story to boost sales of her memoir.
His lawyers said Carroll was hungry for fame and enjoyed the attention from supporters for speaking out against her nemesis.
Another jury last May ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million over a similar October 2022 denial, finding that he had defamed and sexually abused Carroll. Trump is appealing that decision.
In the current trial, Carroll had sought at least $10 million more, saying Trump had “shattered” her reputation as a respected journalist who told the truth.
She also sought punitive damages, in part to keep Trump from repeating his denials.
U.S. 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 Trump should pay.
Trump, a Republican, has used 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.
Trump faces 91 felony counts in four criminal indictments, including two cases accusing him of trying to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss. He has pleaded not guilty in all of the cases, and has portrayed himself as the victim of politically motivated lies and an out-of-control judicial system.
During the Carroll trial, Trump was heard muttering in court that the case was a “con job” and “witch hunt” and that he still did not know who Carroll was, prompting the judge to twice admonish him to keep quiet.
Trump stalked out of the courtroom during the closing argument on Friday by Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, but returned for his own lawyer’s argument.
Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, had argued that Trump acted as though he wasn’t 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.”
‘COCOON OF LOVE’
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba countered that it was the publication of excerpts from Carroll’s memoir in New York magazine that triggered the attacks, not Trump’s denials that began five hours later.
She also argued that Carroll enjoyed her newfound fame and was “happier than ever,” citing her testimony that she had entered a “cocoon of love” from her supporters.
A Northwestern University damages expert who testified on Carroll’s behalf estimated the reputational harm from Trump’s statements was $7.3 million to $12.1 million.
On Thursday, Trump spent only four minutes defending himself on the witness stand after Judge Kaplan forbade him and his lawyers from revisiting issues that the first trial had settled.
Trump was allowed to confirm his October 2022 deposition testimony, which jurors had been shown, in which he called Carroll’s claims a “hoax” and said she was “mentally sick.”
Carroll wrote the “Ask E. Jean” column for Elle from 1993 to 2019, and often appeared on such programs as NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She said those appearances dried up because of Trump.