Donald Trump suffered a defeat in court on Friday when a jury ordered him to pay $83.3 million to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. This verdict is on top of a $5 million damage amount that a jury awarded Carroll last year.
Trump left the court shortly before the jury returned its verdict, but he issued a statement afterward: “Absolutely ridiculous! Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.”
It only took three hours of deliberation for the jury to return a verdict after two weeks of testimony, which centered on a 1996 encounter between Trump and Carroll, where the two reportedly flirted and Trump allegedly forced himself on her.
“Carroll clutched her lawyers’ hands and smiled as the seven-man, two-woman jury delivered its verdict,” reports the Associated Press. “Emotional afterward, she shared a three-way hug with her attorneys. She declined comment as she left the Manhattan federal courthouse.”
Trump didn’t attend the first trial, but he later said he regretted not appearing. He testified in the second trial, although the judge limited what Trump could say. He left the court hastily the day he testified, complaining, “This is not America.”
“This new jury was only asked how much Trump, 77, should pay Carroll, 80, for two statements he made as president when he answered reporters’ questions after excerpts of Carroll’s memoir were published in a magazine — damages that couldn’t be decided earlier because of legal appeals,” the AP reports. “Jurors were not asked to re-decide the issue of whether the sex attack actually happened.”
Carroll’s lawyers requested compensatory damages of $24 million alongside “an unusually high punitive award.” The jury ended up awarding $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 in punitive damages. A sociologist testified that Trump’s comments about Carroll had done “between $7.2 million and $12.1 million” to her reputation.
The AP report continues:
Trump shook his head vigorously as [Carroll’s attorney Roberta] Kaplan spoke, then suddenly stood and walked out, taking Secret Service agents with him. His exit came only minutes after the judge, without the jury present, threatened to send Trump attorney Alina Habba to jail for continuing to talk when he told her she was finished.
“You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup. Now sit down,” the judge told Habba, who immediately complied.
“He shattered my reputation,” Carroll said on the stand. “I am here to get my reputation back and to stop him from telling lies about me.”
Carroll claimed she had to install a security fence around her property and keep guns close by because she was so afraid of retaliation from Trump. She also complained that she “was known as simply as a journalist and had a column, and now [she is] known as the liar, the fraud, and the whack job.”