A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that former President Donald Trump is liable for making false statements about writer E. Jean Carroll in 2019 after she alleged that he sexually assaulted her.
In a 25-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan said Trump acted with actual malice in making statements about Carroll when she accused Trump of assaulting her years ago. Kaplan said in his ruling: “[T]he jury found that Mr. Trump knew that his statement that Ms. Carroll lied about him sexually assaulting her for improper and ulterior purposes was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether it was false.”
Kaplan presided over the May civil trial in which a jury found Trump had sexually abused Carroll during an encounter in the dressing room of a New York department store in the 1990s, and then defamed her after he left office by calling her claims a made-up “con job.” The jury awarded Carroll a total of $5 million in damages — a verdict Trump is appealing to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The second case focuses on similar comments Trump made about Carroll when she first went public with her claims in 2019 while he was president. Kaplan wrote: “The truth or falsity of Mr. Trump’s 2019 statements therefore depends — like the truth or falsity of his 2022 statement — on whether Ms. Carroll lied about Mr. Trump sexually assaulting her. The jury’s finding that she did not therefore is binding in this case and precludes Mr. Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements.” A trial set for Jan. 15 will only determine how much Trump will have to pay her in light of the summary judgment; Kaplan wrote: the trial “shall be limited to the issue of damages only.” Additionally, Kaplan denied a bid from Trump’s attorneys to reduce any damages Carroll might get in the case because of the earlier $5 million verdict.
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