The jury has delivered a verdict in the defamation damages suit brought by E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald J. Trump.
On Friday, a jury in Manhattan ruled that Trump must pay $83.3 million to Carroll as compensation for defamation according to The New York Times. The decision follows Carroll’s accusation in 2019 that Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room many years prior.
Trump has consistently denied these claims through social media, press conferences, and even during his political campaign events. The jury, comprised of nine members, awarded $65 million in punitive damages, acknowledging that Trump’s continued criticisms of Carroll, both during and after his presidency, was malicious. The verdict came after Carroll’s legal team highlighted Trump’s sustained disparaging remarks about her.
The verdict was announced following heated final arguments during which Trump abruptly left the courtroom. He did come back for the closing arguments presented by his lawyer but exited the courthouse at 4 p.m.(EST), prior to the jury announcing their decision.
Judge Kaplan informed the jurors that they were no longer bound by his directive to keep their identities confidential. However, he advised, “my advice to you is that you never disclose you were on this jury.”
Carroll’s attorneys were reportedly visibly emotional, embracing her and each other, with some wiping away tears. When the $65 million figure was announced in the press room, there was an audible gasp from the reporters. Exiting the courthouse, Carroll was seen arm in arm with her legal team, smiling broadly for the cameras.
Carroll announced she was suing Trump back in June of 2023. The jury’s role was solely to decide the amount of damages to be awarded to her. The trial began on January 16, with Trump being the last witness to testify in the case. His testimony lasted for less than five minutes.
Carroll was seeking upwards of $12 million in damages related to alleged actions and statements made by Trump which a jury earlier found to qualify as defamation. During the closing arguments, Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered both sides to drop objections and remain totally silent.
“There are to be no interruptions by anybody, no audible comments by anybody else,” Kaplan said according to CNN. “And when I charge the jury later — that rule applies to everyone in the courtroom, including counsel.” Alina Habba, lead attorney for Trump, attempted to record an objection at which point Kaplan replied, “You are on the verge of spending some time in the lock-up, now sit down.”
As soon as Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan began his opening statement, President Trump stood up and walked out. “The record will reflect that Mr. Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom,” said Judge Kaplan.
Judge Kaplan, who is unrelated to Carroll’s attorney, took a moment to admonish the defense and remind them to remain seated. Boris Epshteyn, an aide to the president who walked out with him, returned without his boss.
In May, Trump was found liable of battery in the civil suit brought by E. Jean Carroll. However, he was not found liable of rape, a charge Carroll had levied against Trump in her lawsuit.