Serious blow for Donald Trump in second E Jean Carroll defamation trial

Donald Trump defamation trial

A federal judge has ruled that Donald Trump is liable for defamatory comments he made in 2019 about E Jean Carroll, in the latest blow in a series of legal woes for the former president.

On Wednesday (6 September), Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the upcoming second civil trial between the pair, which is due to begin in January, will concern only how much more Trump has to pay the former Elle advice columnist. 

The decision comes four months after a jury found the Republican frontrunner liable for sexually assaulting and defaming Carroll. 

In May, the jury found Trump had sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, but did not find him liable for raping her. 

The same jury also found him liable for defamation after he labelled her accusations “a hoax and a lie”. Trump was ordered to pay damages of $5 million (approximately £4 million). He is currently appealing the ruling and has requested a new trial, which is pending.

Kaplan stated that the verdict in the May trial established that Trump’s 2019 statements about the assault were defamatory and made with “actual malice”. 

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In his ruling, the judge said: “The jury [in the first trial] considered and decided issues that are common to both cases – including whether Mr Trump falsely accused Ms Carroll of fabricating her sexual assault charge and, if that were so, that he did it with knowledge that this accusation was false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”

E Jean Carroll and her lawyer Roberta Kaplan following the May verdict. (Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Carroll first came forward with claims of a sexual assault in a New York magazine article in 2019.

She said she ran into the then business mogul in Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury department store in Manhattan, in either late 1995 or early 1996. 

She claimed he forcefully kissed her and proceeded to rape her in a dressing room, in an incident which lasted less than three minutes. 

In response to the ruling by judge Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said they “look forward to a trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made”. 

This latest ruling is just one in a long list of legal problems facing the 45th president and 2024 Republican candidate. 

He has been charged with 91 criminal offences across four indictments, which relate to allegations of the retention of classified information, hush-money payments during the 2016 election and involvement in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.