President Donald J. Trump Loses Request for New Trial in E. Jean Carroll Sexual Abuse Case

On Wednesday, July 19, 2023, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan denied former president Donald J. Trump’s request for a new trial in the sexual abuse lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

Earlier this year, a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding that Trump sexually assaulted and defamed Carroll. “The only point on which Ms. Carroll did not prevail was whether she had proved that Mr. Trump had ‘raped’ her within the narrow, technical meaning of a particular section of the New York Penal Law.” The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

Trump sought a reduction in damages. “Mr. Trump now contends that the jury’s $2 million compensatory damages award for Ms. Carroll’s sexual assault claim was excessive because the jury concluded that he had not ‘raped’ Ms. Carroll.” Judge Kaplan found Trump’s argument “entirely unpersuasive” because “the proof convincingly established, and the jury implicitly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly [sexually assaulted] Ms. Carroll[]. . . causing immediate pain and long lasting emotional and psychological harm.” Judge Kaplan further wrote that “Mr. Trump’s argument therefore ignores the bulk of the evidence at trial, misinterprets the jury’s verdict, and mistakenly focuses on the New York Penal Law definition of ‘rape’ to the exclusion of the meaning of that word as it often is used in everyday life and of the evidence of what actually occurred between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump.”

Judge Kaplan reviewed the evidence at trial, noting that Trump did not testify and did not call any witnesses, the structure of the verdict, and the jury’s decision, concluding that “[t]here is no basis for disturbing the jury’s sexual assault damages. And Mr. Trump’s arguments with respect to the defamation damages are no stronger.” Judge Kaplan ultimately ruled that “[t]he jury in this case did not reach ‘a seriously erroneous result.’ Its verdict is not ‘a miscarriage of justice.'”

In the time since the jury returned its verdict in this lawsuit, Carroll has pursued a separate defamation lawsuit against Trump over comments made in the White House in June 2019. She seeks an additional $10 million in damages in that lawsuit.

Additional Reading

A federal judge denies Trump’s request for new trial in E. Jean Carroll legal saga, NPR (July 19, 2023)

Carroll v. Trump (Case No. 1:2022cv10016)

Memorandum Opinion Denying Defendant’s Rule 59 Motion

Jury Finds Former President Donald J. Trump Sexually Assaulted E. Jean Carroll, Justia Legal News (May 10, 2023)

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