Eight times more than requested. Donald Trump was ordered Friday by a federal jury to pay $83.3 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll, who accused the former U.S. president of destroying her reputation as a journalist by denying that he raped her in the mid-1990s in a fitting room of a luxury department store in Manhattan.
Carroll, 80, sued Trump in November 2019 for denying five months earlier that he had raped her. The Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination was already convicted last May of sexually abusing the woman. The jury then imposed a penalty of five million dollars on him.
In a post on his social network, Truth Social, the Republican lashed out against the ruling and assured that it will be appealed. With his usual capital letters and exclamations, the candidate for reelection wrote: “Absolutely ridiculous! 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. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrines freedom of speech.
Trump, who appeared Thursday and Friday in court, surprisingly left the courtroom while Carroll’s lead counsel read her closing arguments. Admonished on several occasions by the judge presiding over the case, Lewis Kaplan, the belligerent former president showed during the two hearings a more temperate and toned down attitude, shattered by the angry tone of his complaint in Truth Social. In all the trials he faces, the mantra most repeated by the business tycoon is that of being the victim of a political witch-hunt by his Democratic enemies. Victimhood has given him good results, both in terms of popularity and campaign fundraising: after each indictment -and he has been indicted four times now-, the polls of voting intentions soar and the campaign cash register cannot keep up with the collection of donations.
In the second round of this civil case, which has been settled in a Manhattan federal court, the nine-member jury had to put a figure on the Republican’s repeated defamation of Carroll’s accusations. The prosecution had asked for ten million dollars, a figure that a lawyer specializing in damages slightly raised to 12. The jury’s decision has surprised everyone because of the high amount of compensation, which is broken down into several chapters.
Trump must pay Carroll compensatory damages of $18.3 million: $11 million to fund a campaign to repair her reputation and $7.3 million for emotional damage caused by public statements Trump made in 2019, shortly after the woman accused him of raping her in the fitting room, according to Trump to better publicize the sale of an autobiographical book.
The jury, whose members’ identities have been completely safeguarded, to the extent that none of them knows the real identity of their peers, has determined that Trump must also pay $65 million in punitive damages for acting maliciously in making the statements about Carroll. The presiding judge in the case, Lewis Kaplan, thanked its members for their work after the verdict was read, while lifting the gag order on the deliberations, on condition that the identities of his fellow jurors not be revealed. The day before, a longtime friend of Carroll’s who testified at the request of the defense highlighted the country’s tense political climate as an aggravating circumstance for her testimony.
Last May, a separate Manhattan federal jury awarded Carroll a total of $5 million in damages — of which $3 million was for defamation — after it was proven that Trump sexually abused Carroll and then defamed her in 2022, belittling her to the point of calling her “mentally ill” and again denying the allegations.
The candidate for re-election in November faces a complicated judicial landscape. In addition to the four charges against him, there are two civil lawsuits, both in New York, one for defamation and the other for fraud in his family businesses, with a total of 91 charges. The judicial front has not, however, diminished his political expectations, as evidenced by his recent consecutive victories in the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses.
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