A judge has found Donald Trump liable for defaming columnist E. Jean Carroll in 2019. Now, the only issue at hand is how much he should pay in damages.
In a ruling Wednesday morning, Judge Lewis Kaplan issued a partial summary judgment in Carroll’s favor. Because a jury determined in May that Trump defamed Carroll in Oct. 2022 when he denied raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-Nineties, Kaplan ruled that similar 2019 statements by Trump about Carroll were “substantially the same” and made with “actual malice.” Therefore, he is liable, and the upcoming trial slated for January 2024 will be limited to determining damages.
“The truth of 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,” Kaplan wrote in the ruling. “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. Mr. Trump’s contrary arguments are all unpersuasive.”
Trump’s 2019 comments include statements about Carroll where he claimed he “never met this person” in his life and that she is “not my type.” Trump said that the sexual assault “never happened” and that Carroll’s allegations were “totally false.” He also claimed Carroll was only making the accusations to sell copies of her book.
Trump was found liable this past May for defamation and battery against Carroll for the assault and statements he made in 2022, calling Carroll’s allegations against him “a Hoax and a lie.” She was awarded $5 million in total damages. Trump is appealing the decision. Carroll filed that suit after new legislation, the New York Adult Survivors Act, was passed, which created a one-year period during which people sexually assaulted as adults could sue their assailants outside the statute of limitations.
This new ruling is just the latest in a string of losses for Trump in his legal cases with Carroll. In August, Kaplan dismissed Trump’s defamation counterclaim against Carroll because Trump did not prove that her statements were “not at least substantially true.”
Carroll is also seeking additional damages from Trump for comments he made the day after the May ruling. “I swear on my children, which I never do, I have no idea who this woman [is] — this is a fake story, a made-up story,” Trump said during a May 10 CNN town hall, adding that Carroll was a “wack job” and that the trial was a “rigged deal.”
“It makes a mockery of the jury verdict and our justice system if he can just keep on repeating the same defamatory statements over and over again,” Carroll’s attorney told The New York Times in an interview.