The jury found Donald J. Trump had acted maliciously in persistently attacking E. Jean Carroll. He was found liable last year for sexually abusing her.
A Manhattan jury on Friday ordered former President Donald J. Trump to pay $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her in social media posts, news conferences and even on the campaign trail ever since she first accused him in 2019 of raping her in a department store dressing room decades earlier.
The award included $65 million in punitive damages, which the nine-member jury assessed after finding Mr. Trump, 77, had acted maliciously after Ms. Carroll’s lawyers pointed to Mr. Trump’s persisting attacks on her, both from the White House and after leaving office.
On a single day recently, Mr. Trump made more than 40 derisive posts about her on his Truth Social website.
Ms. Carroll, 80, testified that his repeated taunts and lashing out had mobilized many of his supporters, leading to an onslaught of attacks on social media and in her email inbox that frightened her and “shattered” her reputation as a well-regarded advice columnist for Elle magazine. “I was attacked on Twitter,” Ms. Carroll told the jury. “I was attacked on Facebook. I was living in a new universe.”
The verdict came as Mr. Trump faces a series of civil and criminal cases and is seeking to return to the White House. During the trial, Mr. Trump alternated campaign stops in New Hampshire, where he won the Republican presidential primary, with court appearances, using them as an opportunity to reach voters and
complain that he had been mistreated. He appeared in court most days during the trial.
It is the second time Mr. Trump has been ordered to pay Ms. Carroll damages in less than a year. In May, a different Manhattan jury awarded her $5 million after finding Mr. Trump liable for sexually abusing her in the dressing-room assault in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her in a post on his Truth Social website in October 2022, in which he called her accusation “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.”
On Friday, Roberta A. Kaplan, a lawyer for Ms. Carroll, asked the jury in a crisp and methodical summation to award her client at least $24 million to help Ms. Carroll repair her reputation and to compensate her for the emotional harm Mr. Trump had inflicted with his attacks.
Ms. Kaplan also asked the jury to award substantial punitive damages to deter Mr. Trump from continuing to attack Ms. Carroll. Ms. Kaplan did not specify an amount, but she noted that Mr. Trump, in an excerpt from a video deposition played for the jury, estimated that his brand alone was worth “maybe $10 billion” and that he placed the value of various of his real estate properties at $14 billion.
“Donald Trump is worth billions of dollars,” Ms. Kaplan told the jury.
“The law says you can consider Donald Trump’s wealth as well as his malicious and spiteful continuing conduct in making that assessment,” Ms. Kaplan said, adding, “Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now is the time to make him pay dearly.”
Mr. Trump did not hear those words. After scoffing, muttering and shaking his head throughout the first few minutes of Ms. Kaplan’s closing argument, Mr. Trump rose from the defense table without saying anything, turned and left the 26th-floor courtroom. Ms. Kaplan continued to address the jury as if the stark breach of decorum had not happened.
“The record will reflect that Mr. Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom,” Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said.
A clutch of reporters rushed to catch him outside. A sketch artist began drawing his exiting the courtroom. Later, a juror leaned forward and looked expectantly at the door.
He returned about 75 minutes after he left, when his lawyer, Alina Habba, offered her summation.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers tried to cast Ms. Carroll as a fame-hungry writer who was trying to raise a diminishing profile when she wrote in 2019 of an encounter more than two decades earlier that she said had traumatized her for decades.
She argued that Ms. Carroll’s reputation, far from being damaged, had improved as a result of the president’s statements. And she said Ms. Carroll’s lawyers had not proved that the deluge of threats and defamatory statements the writer received were a response to Mr. Trump’s statements.
“No causation,” Ms. Habba thundered, adding, “President Trump has no more control over the thoughts and feelings of social media users than he does the weather.”
The jurors remained attentive during the closing arguments, offering no clues about how they might be viewing the case. One watched Ms. Kaplan intently during much of her summation; others alternated between looking at the lawyers, staring at the exhibits on the screens in front of them and taking notes.
During the summations, Mr. Trump’s account on his Truth Social website made about 16 posts in 15 minutes mostly attacking Judge Kaplan and Ms. Carroll, with by now familiar insults.
Shawn G. Crowley, another of Ms. Carroll’s lawyers, rejected Ms. Habba’s contention that Mr. Trump’s statements did not prompt the threats Ms. Carroll received. Ms. Crowley also brought up his decision on Friday to walk away as Ms. Kaplan gave full voice to Ms. Carroll’s case.
“He gets to lie,” Ms. Crowley said. “He gets to threaten. He gets to ignore a jury verdict. He gets to defy the law and the rules of this courtroom. You saw how he has behaved through this trial. You heard him. You saw him stand up and walk out of this courtroom while Ms. Kaplan was speaking. Rules don’t apply to Donald Trump.”
Olivia Bensimon, Anusha Bayya and Michael Gold contributed reporting.
AFRO WORLD NEWS