June 15, 2024

Judge upholds $5 million jury verdict against Trump, rejecting ex-president’s vindication claim

A federal judge on Wednesday upheld a $5 million jury verdict against Donald Trump, rejecting the former president’s claim that the award was excessive and that the jury committed it by failing to conclude in the civil case that he raped a columnist in costume luxury stores. room in the 1990s.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said the jury’s May award of compensatory and punitive damages to writer E. Jean Carroll for sexual abuse and defamation was reasonable.

Trump’s lawyers asked Kaplan to reduce the jury’s award to less than $1 million or order a new trial on damages. In their arguments, the lawyers said the $2 million in compensatory damages the jury awarded for Carroll’s sexual assault claim was excessive because the jury found that Trump did not rape Carroll at the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan in the spring of 1996.

Kaplan wrote that the jury’s unanimous verdict was almost entirely in Carroll’s favor, except that the jury concluded that she had failed to prove that Trump raped her “within the narrow technical meaning of a specific section of the New Penal Law— York.”

The judge said that the article requires penetration of the vagina with a penis and that tangible penetration without consent of the vagina or other body parts by fingers or anything else is called “sexual abuse” rather than “rape”.

He said the definition of rape was “much narrower” than what rape is defined in modern consensus, some dictionaries, federal and state criminal statutes and elsewhere.

The judge said the verdict did not mean that Carroll “failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ by Mr Trump as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape’.” In fact … the jury found that Mr. Trump did exactly that.”

Trump’s lawyers were correct in arguing that the $2 million sexual abuse award would be excessive if the jury based the compensation award on a conclusion that Trump molested Carroll through his clothing or similar behavior, the judge said. But, he said, that’s not what the jury found.

“There was no evidence of such behavior at all. Instead, the evidence conclusively showed, and the jury peremptorily found, that Mr. Trump intentionally and forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long-term emotional and psychological harm,” wrote Kaplan.

The judge said Trump’s argument “ignores the majority of the evidence at trial, misconstrues the jury’s verdict, and incorrectly focuses on the New York Penal Law definition of ‘rape’ without excluding the meaning of that word as it is often used.” it is daily. life and the evidence of what really happened between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump.”

Lawyers for Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, did not immediately comment after the judge’s ruling.

Attorney Robbie Kaplan, who represents Carroll and is not related to the judge, said in a statement: “Now that the court has denied Trump’s motion for a new trial or to reduce the amount of the verdict, E Jean Carroll looking forward to receiving the $5. million in damages awarded by the jury.”

The lawyer said her client is also looking forward to a second defamation trial against Trump scheduled for January. That claim is based on statements Trump made while he was president and statements he made after the trial.

Since a verdict in early May after a two-week trial, Trump has maintained that he never met Carroll at the department store and did not know her before she claimed in a 2019 memoir that he raped her.

At the trial, Carroll testified for three days, saying that Trump sexually assaulted her in the dressing room of a midtown Manhattan store on a secluded floor near the lingerie section after they had a chance encounter at the entrance of the shop while flirting with each other while shopping for clothes. to one of Trump’s friends. The store is located across the street from Trump Tower.

Trump, 77, did not attend the trial. He said in a post on social media last week that his lawyers “out of respect for the Office of the President and the implausibility of the case, did not want me to testify, or even be at the trial….”

After the trial, Carroll, 79, added new claims to a pending defamation claim and sought an additional $10 million in compensatory damages and much more in unspecified punitive damages.

Trump challenged Carroll, saying he was defamed when she continued to assert after the verdict that she had been raped.

The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll did.

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