Jurors in the defamation case against Donald Trump took less than three hours to decide that Trump should pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she claimed Trump raped her in the 1990s in a downtown New York City department store. A jury in a related trial last year determined that Trump was liable for the rape and concluded that he owed Carroll $5 million for denigrating her in public in the fall of 2022. This second trial relates to comments Trump made in 2019, when Carroll first went public with her story. At that time, Trump denied that he had ever even met her and said she was not his “type,” among other things. Carroll testified at both trials that Trump’s attacks unleashed an avalanche of online hatred, put her in fear for her life, and left her career and personal reputation in tatters.
In court on Friday, Carroll’s attorneys asked jurors to award her $24 million in damages in this case.
“One of the questions you have to decide is whether he acted with malice,” Shawn Crowley, a Carroll attorney, told the jurors during closing statements. “What could be more on-brand for Donald Trump than malice?”
“This isn’t a campaign rally—it’s not a press event. This is a court of law. And it’s Ms. Carroll’s life,” Crowley added. “Donald Trump sexually assaulted her. He defamed her. He keeps defaming her. He is not the victim. This is her life. Help her take it back. Make it stop. Make him pay enough so that he will stop.”
The jury was sent to deliberate about 1:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and by 4:30 p.m. it had reached a verdict. The jurors weren’t asked in this case to determine whether Trump had raped Carroll. Federal court judge Lewis Kaplan repeatedly explained to the them that, legally, this question had already been decided. Their job was to focus on the alleged defamation. The jury awarded Carroll $7.3 million to compensate for her loss in reputation, $11 million to help repair her reputation, and $65 million in punitive damages.
Last week, when Donald Trump started complaining loudly in the courtroom where he was on trial, Kaplan warned the former president to behave himself or face consequences.
“You can’t control yourself,” Kaplan told Trump.
“You can’t either,” Trump shot back.
By the end of the trial, Kaplan did mostly control Trump, limiting his testimony to a mere three minutes and cutting Trump off whenever he strayed from the topic at hand. On Friday, Trump tried one last act of defiance: standing and walking out of the courtroom while Roberta Kaplan, an attorney for Carroll (who is not related to the judge), delivered a closing statement to jurors. While such an act is not strictly forbidden, it does violate accepted decorum for a federal court proceeding. Judge Kaplan ordered Trump’s departure to be noted for the record.
Trump stormed out after Kaplan told the jury that Trump had spent the whole trial “continuing to engage in defamation.”
Last year, in another civil trial, jurors were asked to evaluate Carroll’s story—that she ran into Trump in a fancy Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s and after flirtatious banter he cornered her in a dressing room and raped her. They also had to determine if he had defamed her with his denials. That jury found that Trump was liable for the sexual assault and said Trump owed Carroll $5 million for defamation. At the beginning of this trial, Judge Kaplan ruled that it was fact that Trump had raped Carroll and that the only question left to jurors was how much she was owed in damages.
Kaplan told the jurors that Trump had continued to defame Carroll throughout this trial—in loud whispers in the courtroom, at press conferences outside the court, and on social media, as he continued to claim he had never met her. She even played clips of Trump’s recent press conferences for jurors on Friday. For his part, Trump posted on Truth Social numerous screeds against Carroll and Kaplan.
Trump returned to the courtroom for the closing statements of his attorney, Alina Habba, who assailed Carroll, asserting she had invited the notoriety and has enjoyed all the attention generated by these cases. Habba also argued with Judge Kaplan, who cut her off when she tried to say Carroll’s allegation of assault wasn’t true.
“In our country you have the right to speak,” Habba complained.
“You have a constitutional right to some kinds of speech and not others,” Judge Kaplan told her.
Trump was not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Following the verdict, Kaplan dismissed the jurors but advised them they might want to protect their anonymity.
“My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” Kaplan said.