NEW YORK — A federal jury ordered former President Trump to pay $83.3 million for defaming E. Jean Carroll when Trump in 2019 denied the longtime advice columnist’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her decades earlier, according to multiple reports.
It marks the second time Carroll has won damages from Trump at trial, with the new total adding to a $5 million verdict last year finding Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her over a separate comment.
Carroll’s latest trial became intertwined with the heat of the early primary contests, beginning the day after Trump’s historic Iowa caucus win and proceeding past the New Hampshire primary, when Trump further cemented his status as the indisputable Republican front-runner.
Trump oftentimes picked the courtroom over the campaign trail, sitting in for all but one day of the trial, when he instead attended his mother-in-law’s funeral. He was not required to attend any of the proceedings.
During the whirlwind trial, Carroll testified at length and Trump briefly took the stand as the final witness. The judge also issued a multi-day delay in the middle of the trial after raising COVID-19 concerns.
After closing arguments, the jury began their deliberations Friday afternoon and reached a unanimous verdict after three hours.
The nine New Yorkers, two women and seven men, ordered Trump to pay the former Elle columnist $11 million for a reputational repair program, $7.3 million in other compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.
Trump claimed — and still does — that Carroll was lying and made up the accusation to sell her book.
But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee who oversaw the trial, had already ruled that Trump defamed Carroll. The jury merely considered the issue of damages.
The narrow scope was the result of a jury’s verdict last year that found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the mid-1990s. That finding made Trump’s denials automatically false and defamatory, Kaplan previously ruled.
The case revolved around a written statement given to reporters and comments Trump made on the South Lawn in June 2019, when Carroll originally came forward publicly with her accusation.
“It ended the world that I had been living in,” Carroll testified.
After days of anticipation, Trump, too, took the stand, albeit only for about two minutes. Because of the issues already decided, the judge placed strict limitations on Trump’s testimony over his legal team’s objections.
During the trial, the jurors also heard the former president’s more recent comments attacking Carroll, including during a deposition in the case and a press conference Trump gave just days ago after leaving the courtroom.
“100 percent, yes,” Trump testified when asked if he stood by his deposition.
The trial also included testimony from a marketing professor who quantified the damages as Carroll’s expert witness; one of Carroll’s longtime friends; and the former editor-in-chief of Elle, where Carroll published her longtime advice column.
Carroll’s two lawsuits are just some of many legal battles Trump faces as he campaigns to return to the White House.
In a civil fraud case that threatens Trump’s business empire, the trial judge’s final ruling could land anytime. And Trump also is staring down 91 criminal charges across four indictments.