As the former president tries to return to the White House, a New York jury ordered Donald Trump to pay $83.3 million to former Elle magazine journalist E. Jean Carroll for defaming her when he denied sexually assaulting her.
A two-week Manhattan federal court trial ended with the award Friday. Carroll said that Trump's bogus assertion that the attack never happened ruined her reputation and placed her life at jeopardy, prompting his fans to harass and threaten her online.
Following Trump and Carroll's testimony, the seven-man, two-woman panel discussed for three hours. Carroll received $18.3 million in compensation for his reputation and $65 million in punitive penalties to discourage Trump from defamation.
Carroll's lawyer asked the jury for $24 million in compensatory damages and an undefined but large amount in punitive damages to discourage him from defaming her. The compensatory damages were lower than she desired, but the $65 million in punitive damages proved her case.
Trump wasn't in court for the verdict. He denounced the verdict as “absolutely ridiculous!” on social media minutes after it was revealed, threatening to appeal.
The jury accepted Carroll's claim that Trump's words “shattered” her image as a trusted advice columnist and writer, reducing her income and threatening her career. Carroll's punitive damages decision shows that a wealthy and powerful leader like Trump deserved a high financial consequence for his actions.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates Trump's wealth at $3.1 billion.
“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,” Carroll said.
The award is Trump's latest legal setback and highlights his alleged treatment of women only days after he won the carefully watched New Hampshire primary, which moved him closer to the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. While running, he faces four criminal trials and a $370 million civil fraud prosecution launched by New York state over his asset assessments.
Only the cost to him concerned the jury. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan found Trump accountable for defaming Carroll as president before the trial.
“Enjoy the weekend,” Judge Kaplan urged the jurors before telling them not to expose their names.
Trump's appeal is expected. He has disputed the 2022 verdict that found him guilty of sexual abuse and social media defamation. After hearing extensive testimony from several women who accused Trump, the jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.