Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll has been granted an additional $83.3 million by a jury after accusing former President Donald Trump of damaging her reputation by calling her a liar following her allegations of sexual assault. The verdict was announced on Friday by a jury consisting of seven men and two women.
Trump, who had been present throughout the trial, abruptly left the courtroom during Carroll’s lawyer’s closing arguments, only to return later.
As the verdict was read, Carroll smiled, while Trump had already left the premises in his motorcade. This marks the second time in nine months that a jury has reached a verdict regarding Carroll’s claim of a violent encounter with Trump in 1996. In May, a different jury awarded Carroll $5 million, finding Trump responsible for sexually abusing her and defaming her by claiming she fabricated the incident.
Trump is currently appealing that decision. In the first trial, Trump did not attend, but later expressed regret for his absence. In the second trial, he insisted on testifying, although the judge limited his statements, ruling that he had missed his opportunity to argue his innocence. Trump spent only a few minutes on the witness stand, denying the attack before leaving the court and expressing dissatisfaction, stating, “this is not America.”
The recent jury was solely tasked with determining the amount that Trump, aged 77, should compensate Carroll, aged 80, for two statements he made during his presidency in response to reporters’ inquiries after excerpts from Carroll’s memoir were published in a magazine. These damages were previously unresolved due to ongoing legal appeals. It is important to note that the jurors were not required to reconsider whether the alleged sexual assault actually occurred.
Carroll’s legal team had requested $24 million in compensatory damages along with a notably high punitive award. During her closing argument on Friday, Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, implored the jurors to impose a punishment on Trump that would dissuade him from continuously making public statements that defame Carroll as a liar and a “whack job.”
As Kaplan spoke, Trump vehemently shook his head before abruptly standing up and leaving the room, accompanied by Secret Service agents. This sudden departure occurred mere minutes after the judge, in the absence of the jury, threatened to hold Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, in contempt and potentially send her to jail for disregarding his instruction to conclude her remarks.
“You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup. Now sit down,” the judge told Habba, who immediately complied.
Trump’s relentless pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination for a third consecutive time coincided with the conclusion of his trial. In a strategic move, he has skillfully transformed his numerous legal battles and vulnerabilities into an advantageous position, presenting them as proof of a politicized system.
Despite the absence of any substantiated claims implicating President Joe Biden or the White House in influencing the legal proceedings against him, Trump’s narrative has struck a chord with his unwavering supporters, who approach these proceedings with a skeptical eye.