Donald Trump was ordered by a New York civil court on Friday to pay a whopping $83.3 million in damages to author E. Jean Carroll for defaming her in connection with rape allegations in the 1990s.
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The former president of the United States, who is running for re-election, immediately denounced a “ridiculous” conviction on his social network Truth Social and promised to appeal.
The heavy favorite in the Republican primaries and Joe Biden's most likely opponent in the November presidential election once again denounced “a Biden-led witch hunt against (him) and the Republican Party.”
“THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” he exclaimed in writing.
That astronomical $83.3 million, decided by nine jurors, includes $65 million in “punitive damages” intended to deter him from attacking Ms. Carroll again.
Intention to “harm”
Because the jury underscored the intent to “harm” Mr. Trump, 77, he was found liable for defamatory statements against this 80-year-old woman, seeking at least $10 million for moral and professional damages.
Elizabeth Jean Carroll was a journalist and columnist for the American edition of Elle magazine and in 2019 accused Donald Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a New York department store in 1996.
Getty Images via AFP
On Friday evening, she beamed as she left the Manhattan courthouse, surrounded by loved ones and in a forest of photographers.
In a statement, she hailed “a major victory for every woman who stands up after being knocked down and a major defeat for every petty tyrant who tried to keep her down.”
During the trial, she called on the judiciary to restore her “reputation”.
Due to another civil lawsuit in 2022 for rape and defamation, she had already held Donald Trump responsible last May for sexual assault in 1996 and defamatory statements about this affair in 2022.
The tycoon was subsequently ordered to pay $5 million, bringing the total he will have to pay after these two trials in May 2023 and this month to $88 million.
This latest trial, exclusively for defamation, follows an initial civil lawsuit in 2019 and opened on January 16 in an electric atmosphere in the presence of the former occupant of the White House, who, buoyed by his victories, dreams of returning there at the Republican primaries in the states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Trump leaves the courtroom
As soon as the final hearings began on Friday, the tempestuous businessman and political tribune suddenly rose from his chair and jumped out of the courtroom.
He then walked back and forth between the courtroom and the courthouse hallways.
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Ms. Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan (no relation to Judge Lewis Kaplan), had just said that the ex-president “spent the entire trial defaming his client.”
“The man who sexually assaulted (Mrs Carroll) does what he wants: he lies, he defames,” thundered the lawyer, for whom the septuagenarian “continues to harm her on his powerful platform,” to the network Truth Social tens of millions of subscribers.
In fact, from Wednesday to Friday, Mr. Trump posted around sixty messages in which he again accused Ms. Carroll of putting together “a FAKE Monica Lewinsky story” — named after the White House intern scandal that nearly toppled President Bill Clinton in the recent 1990s years – and “wanted to extort money”.
He called her “crazy” again, with a “false story” that he had “never seen in his life.” During the procedure in 2022, he referred to the author as “sick.”
On Thursday, the former head of state briefly defended himself in the trial, but his freedom of expression was strictly restricted to avoid verbal slip-ups.
“She said something that I thought was wrong,” Mr. Trump said simply in response to the first rape allegations Ms. Carroll made in a book in 2019 and to her complaint that same year.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the trial in 2023, ordered that it focus only on Donald Trump's defamatory statements and not the rape allegations.
In addition to this case, four criminal cases await the former President of the United States.