In a stunning verdict, former President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a staggering $83.3 million in damages to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him of sexual assault. The jury’s ruling on Friday marked the end of years of litigation, as Carroll sought retribution for Trump’s relentless attacks on her character.
The jury, after a brief deliberation, determined that Trump must pay $65 million in punitive damages and $18.3 million in compensatory damages. Carroll initially filed a lawsuit against Trump in November 2019, alleging defamation after he denied her allegations of sexual assault, callously stating that she wasn’t “his type.” She later filed a second lawsuit in November 2022, which went to trial in May 2023, accusing Trump of both defamation and sexual assault. The jury ruled in favor of Carroll, affirming that Trump did assault and defame her, although they did not find evidence of rape.
It is important to note that this trial was solely to determine the amount of damages, as Trump had already been found liable for defamation and sexual assault in a previous case. Trump has already appealed the verdict from Carroll’s first trial and is likely to do the same with this ruling. However, he will be required to turn over the money first, just as he did in the first case, placing the sum into a court-controlled account during the appeal process.
Despite the legal battles, Trump has continued to attack Carroll on social media, posting about her more than 40 times on a single day. It remains to be seen if Carroll intends to file another defamation claim against Trump for his recent posts.
Forbes has estimated Trump’s net worth at $2.6 billion, with approximately $426 million in cash and liquid assets. It is unclear whether he will use these reserves to pay the damages or rely on his Save America PAC, which has been handling most of his legal fees. However, the PAC reported having only $3.7 million in cash on hand as of June 30.
This may be the first of two significant payments Trump will be ordered to make this month, as Judge Arthur Engoron is expected to issue a verdict in a separate civil fraud case brought against Trump and his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The case alleges that Trump and his associates fraudulently misstated the value of assets on financial statements for personal gain. James is seeking approximately $370 million plus interest, with the majority of the payment to be made by Trump and his controlled companies.
E. Jean Carroll’s case against Trump is a significant milestone, as she is one of the approximately two dozen women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault or misconduct against him. Carroll’s allegations are the only ones that have gone to trial, while another accuser, Summer Zervos, dropped her defamation lawsuit against Trump in November 2021.
Trump has consistently denied all allegations against him, including those made by Carroll, and maintains that he does not know her and did not assault her. However, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the recent trial, emphasized that Trump could not make those claims in court since he has already been found liable.
As the legal battles continue, the outcome of these cases will have significant implications for both Trump and his accusers, shaping the narrative surrounding his presidency and the allegations of sexual misconduct that have followed him.