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

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former President Donald Trump must pay advice columnist E. Jean Carroll a stunning $83.3 million for defaming her in 2019, when he denied her allegations of sexual assault and said "people should pay dearly for such false accusations," a federal civil jury ruled Friday.

Carroll's lawyers had asked the anonymous nine-person jury for heavy damages against the former president, and the panel didn't disappoint: Carroll was awarded $18.3 million in compensatory damages, and $65 million in punitive damages. The jury deliberated for just three hours after a trial spanning several days of testimony and arguments.

Trump, who left the Manhattan courtroom before the verdict was read, fumed on social media and vowed to appeal the jury's decision.

"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," he wrote on Truth Social. "Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon."

Carroll smiled as the verdict was announced. "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she’s been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down," she said in a statement Friday night.

Trump rival Nikki Haley weighs in

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump's last remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, seized on the verdict to attack the former president, four weeks before they face off in her home state's GOP primary.

“Donald Trump wants to be the presumptive Republican nominee and we’re talking about $83 million in damages," Haley wrote on X (formerly Twitter). "We’re not talking about fixing the border. We’re not talking about tackling inflation. America can do better than Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”

'He does care about money'

Earlier on Friday, Carroll's lead counsel, Roberta Kaplan, had asked the jury for a minimum of $24 million in compensatory damages, adding that Trump should face unspecified — but hefty — punitive damages to punish and deter him.

"He does care about money," she said. "How much will it take to make him stop?"

From 11pm Thursday into Friday afternoon, Trump made 17 posts or shares to Truth Social, totaling nearly 750 words, decrying the Carroll case, and attacking her veracity and the judge's impartiality.

The $18.3 million in compensatory damages awarded by the jury included $11 million for Carroll to pay for a public relations campaign to restore her reputation, and $7.3 million for pain and suffering.

"This is a huge day for E. Jean Carroll, but also for victims of sexual abuse everywhere," said Stephanie Grisham, who served as Trump's White House press secretary.

Harrowing tale of a decades-old attack

Friday's defamation damages are in addition to the $5 million Trump already was told he will have to pay Carroll after a jury found last May that he had sexually abused and then defamed the author in 2022, when he called her accusation a "con job."

The new verdict addresses Trump's initial denials, in 2019, after Carroll first went public with allegations that Trump had raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s.

Judge Lewis Kaplan told the jurors, seven men and two women, that they were free to speak publicly, but they could not reveal the identity of another juror. “My advice to you," he added "is that you never disclose that you were on this jury, and I won’t say anything more about it."

E. Jean Carroll, center, walks out of Manhattan federal court, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in New York. A jury has found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing the advice columnist in 1996, awarding her $5 million in a judgment that could haunt the former president as he campaigns to regain the White House. E. Jean Carroll, a New York-based advice columnist, sued Donald Trump in civil trial alleging Trump raped her in a luxury New York department store dressing room in the 1990s.

Threats and denials

Carroll's lawyers argued that Trump unleashed his supporters upon her through his lengthy statements as president denying her accusation and suggesting she made it to sell books. They showed the jury a series of messages that were presented as a sampling of the attacks Carroll has faced.

One attacker told Carroll to "stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger and send yourself to HELL." Another told her the "penalty for lying about rape should be execution by hanging or firing squad."

When Carroll first read a death threat from one of Trump's followers, she physically ducked, she testified. "I thought I was gonna get shot," she said.

Trump skipped the first defamation trial, but this time he attended many of the proceedings. He briefly testified Thursday, though he was constrained by Judge Kaplan, who had previously ruled that, in light of the prior verdict, Trump could not deny assaulting Carroll while on the witness stand.

When Trump described Carroll's accusation as "totally false," Judge Kaplan struck that part of the testimony.

Trump continued to attack Carroll on social media throughout the trial. On Thursday night, he posted a video describing the case as a "scam." "I don't even know who this woman is," he said.

Donald Trump (left) and E. Jean Carroll (second from left, with then-husband John Johnson) in a photograph Carroll says dates from a 1987 party they attended.
Donald Trump (left) and E. Jean Carroll (second from left, with then-husband John Johnson) in a photograph Carroll says dates from a 1987 party they attended.

That echoed comments Trump made out of turn from inside the courtroom Thursday. "Mr. Trump, keep your voice down," Judge Kaplan instructed the Republican presidential frontrunner.

Trump attorney Alina Habba had portrayed Carroll as an attention seeker who could not prove that the threats she received were the result of Trump's denials, rather than her own accusation.

"This is about some people in their mothers' basements who will always be mean on social media," she told the jurors on Friday.

Trump attorney vows to appeal

In a statement on Friday, Roberta Kaplan said the verdict "proves that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents."

"Standing up to a bully takes courage and bravery; it takes someone like E. Jean Carroll," she said.

Habba, who clashed repeatedly with the judge during the trial − to the point that she was threatened with a contempt citation and jail time − said Trump would "immediately appeal" the verdict.

“We were stripped of every defense, every single defense before we walked in there and I am proud to stand with President Trump because he showed up, he stood up, he took the stand and he faced this judge,” Habba told reporters outside the courthouse.

Contributing: Bart Jansen, USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump ordered to pay $83 million in defamation trial verdict