Trump Loses Defamation Suit, Ordered to Pay $83M for Sexual Abuse Allegations

New York City, NY – In a high-profile defamation lawsuit, former President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $83 million to E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accused him of sexual assault. The jury concluded that Trump sexually abused Carroll, but there was not enough evidence to prove rape. Trump filed a counterclaim alleging that Carroll defamed him by making the rape allegation. However, the counterclaim was dismissed by Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled that the jury verdict showed Carroll’s allegation was “substantially true.”

Carroll initially sued Trump in 2019, claiming that he raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the 1990s. In May, she was awarded $5 million for sexual abuse and defamation. Now, in a separate civil defamation case, an additional $83.3 million has been awarded to Carroll for Trump’s denials in 2019.

Trump has consistently denied Carroll’s allegations and has already appealed the first verdict. He intends to appeal the second one as well. The question of whether the jury found Trump guilty of rape has created confusion. However, it is important to note that the jury’s decision in the civil case only required them to determine if Carroll’s allegation was probably true, not to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal case.

The distinction between sexual abuse and rape rests on the New York legal definition. Under New York criminal law, “rape” specifically refers to vaginal penetration by a penis. In the civil case, the jury was instructed to use this definition. While the jurors found that Trump sexually abused Carroll, they were not convinced that he penetrated her with his penis.

Judge Kaplan reasoned that the jurors’ conclusion of sexual abuse implies they believed Trump penetrated Carroll with his fingers. He argued that since Carroll’s allegations included forcible kissing, the pulling down of tights, and vaginal penetration, her claim met the requirement of Trump touching her sexual or intimate parts.

The jury’s decision to accept part of Carroll’s story but not the rape allegation was not accompanied by an explanation. Kaplan suggested that Carroll’s testimony about digital penetration was more explicit and repeated, while her description of penile penetration was less certain. The psychologist’s testimony, as well as other women’s stories of assault by Trump, may have influenced the jury’s decision.

It is important to clarify that the jury’s finding of sexual abuse instead of rape does not affect the damages awarded to Carroll. The judge instructed the jury that damages could be awarded for sexual assault, sexual abuse, and forcible touching. The verdict on the rape question was deemed unnecessary and immaterial.

The case has sparked national attention and raises broader questions about the legal definitions of sexual assault. The ruling in Carroll’s favor confirms her allegation as “substantially true.” For survivors of sexual assault, organizations like RAINN offer support through hotlines and online resources.