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Donald Trump loses bid for new trial in E. Jean Carroll abuse case

2023-07-19T15:45:25Z

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S., July 7, 2023. REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File Photo

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s request for a new trial after a jury found the former U.S. president liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million.

In a 59-page decision, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan also dismissed Trump’s arguments for reducing damages to less than $1 million.

Kaplan said the unanimous May 9 verdict was “almost entirely in favor of Ms. Carroll,” and neither a “seriously erroneous result” nor a “miscarriage of justice.”

Trump appealed the decision, adding it to his earlier appeal of the jury verdict. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Carroll, 79, accused Trump, 77, of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and defaming her when he branded the incident a hoax in an October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform.

She is also pursuing a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Trump over comments he made in the White House in June 2019, after she first accused him of forcing himself upon her in the Bergdorf Goodman store.

Trump had told a reporter he had not known Carroll, that the former Elle magazine columnist was not his “type,” and that she lied to boost sales of her memoir, which had been excerpted in New York magazine.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, said Carroll looks forward to collecting the $5 million, and “continuing to hold Trump accountable for what he did to her” at a Jan. 15, 2024, trial in the other defamation lawsuit.

Trump, who is again seeking the presidency, faces many other legal problems.

These include a federal indictment for taking classified documents and obstructing government efforts to reclaim them, a New York indictment over hush money payments to a porn star before the 2016 election, and possible charges over his efforts to stay in the White House following his 2020 election loss.

In seeking a reduction in damages, Trump called the $2 million award for sexual abuse “grossly excessive” because such abuse could have included groping Carroll’s breasts through clothing, “a far cry from rape.”

But Judge Kaplan said New York’s penal law defines rape much more narrowly than ordinary people think of the term, and that Trump was wrong to insist it excused him.

“The proof convincingly established, and the jury implicitly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long lasting emotional and psychological harm,” the judge wrote.

“Mr. Trump’s argument therefore ignores the bulk of the evidence at trial, misinterprets the jury’s verdict, and (ignored) evidence of what actually occurred between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump,” he added.

The judge also said the evidence justified awarding Carroll $3 million for defamation, rejecting Trump’s claim that the award was based on “pure speculation” about how Carroll’s reputation was harmed.

Carroll filed her first lawsuit in November 2019.

She amended it after Trump disparaged her in a CNN town hall one day after the $5 million verdict, calling her account “fake” and her a “whack job.”

Trump is also suing Carroll for defamation, after she said “oh yes, he did; oh yes, he did” when asked on CNN about the jury finding that he did not commit rape.

Carroll wants to dismiss that claim, saying her statement was “substantially true” and reflected her thoughts as the verdict was read.

The case is Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10016. Carroll’s original lawsuit is Carroll v Trump in the same court, No. 20-07311.

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