A jury in New York ruled that Donald Trump must pay $83.3 million for defaming columnist E. Jean Carroll in 2019, during his presidency.
The civil trial’s penalty includes $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.
In an earlier civil case, Mr. Trump was found to have defamed Ms. Carroll and to have committed sexual assault against her in the 1990s.
Mr. Trump, criticizing the latest decision, pledged to appeal, labeling the case a witch hunt and describing the verdict as “Absolutely ridiculous!”
The awarded compensatory damages are intended to cover the harm to Ms. Carroll’s reputation and emotional health, as determined by the jury.
The jury also decided on a punitive penalty to deter Mr. Trump from further negative comments about her.
The verdict, reached by a jury of seven men and two women, took less than three hours on a Friday afternoon.
“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,” Ms. Carroll said in a statement.
Her lawyer, Robbie Kaplan, commented, “Today’s verdict proves that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents.”
The presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan (not related to the plaintiff’s lawyer), had earlier advised jurors to remain anonymous amongst themselves, given the case’s sensitive nature.
Upon the trial’s conclusion, Judge Kaplan informed the jurors that they could discuss their experience but personally advised against revealing their involvement in this case.
Despite Mr. Trump’s consistent denials of any wrongdoing and claims of never having met Ms. Carroll, he refrained from direct attacks against her in a post-verdict statement on Truth Social.
“I fully disagree with both verdicts,” he wrote, “and will be appealing this whole Biden-Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party.”
Mr. Trump decried the legal system as being misused for political purposes, claiming it infringed upon First Amendment rights, and declared, “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”
A previous civil trial concluded that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted Ms. Carroll in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s and defamed her by denying the accusations, resulting in a $5 million compensation order.
The latest trial focused on separate defamatory remarks made by Mr. Trump in 2019. Mr. Trump, who had left the court earlier with his security detail, was not present to hear the verdict.
His departure coincided with Judge Kaplan threatening to jail Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, for disregarding his instruction to remain silent.
Judge Kaplan had previously warned Mr. Trump about murmuring in the courtroom, calling the trial a “con job” and a “witch hunt.” He insisted on no disruptions during the verdict reading.
In the closing arguments, Ms. Carroll’s lawyer emphasized the severe damage to her reputation caused by Mr. Trump’s denial of the assault.
The attorney stressed that the trial’s purpose was to penalize Mr. Trump and prevent further defamatory acts.
Ms. Carroll’s legal team had previously informed the court about the wave of death and rape threats and online harassment she faced following Mr. Trump’s statements.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer argued against additional damages, criticizing the credibility of Ms. Carroll’s claims and denying Mr. Trump’s responsibility for the threats she received.
Mr. Trump faces four criminal cases involving 91 felony charges, marking him as the first U.S. president to be criminally charged.
He has repeatedly asserted that the various legal challenges he faces are politically motivated, orchestrated by allies of President Joe Biden.
As a leading candidate for the Republican party, Mr. Trump is anticipated to face Mr. Biden again in the November 2024 general election.