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Judge rejects Trump bid for new trial in E. Jean Carroll abuse case

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A federal judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s request for a new trial after a jury found the former U.S. president liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million.

In a 59-page decision, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan also dismissed Trump’s arguments for reducing damages to less than $1 million.

Kaplan said the unanimous May 9 verdict was “almost entirely in favor of Ms. Carroll,” and neither a “seriously erroneous result” nor a “miscarriage of justice.”

Trump, who is again seeking the presidency, appealed the decision, adding it to his earlier appeal of the jury verdict. His lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Click to play video: 'Trump calls Carroll verdict ‘fake story’ at CNN town hall'
Trump calls Carroll verdict ‘fake story’ at CNN town hall

Carroll, 79, accused Trump, 77, of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and defaming her in an October 2022 social media post when he branded the incident a “Hoax and a lie” and said Carroll was not his “type.”

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She is also pursuing a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Trump over similar comments in June 2019, after she first accused him of forcing himself upon her in the Bergdorf Goodman store. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.

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Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, said her client looks forward to collecting the $5 million and the second trial.

In a separate legal setback for Trump on Wednesday, another judge rejected his bid to move a criminal case against him involving a hush-money payment to a porn star to federal court from a New York state court.

Trump faces many other legal problems, including a federal indictment over classified documents he took from the White House and possible charges over his efforts to remain president after his 2020 election loss.

Judge says Trump misinterpreted jury verdict

In seeking a reduction in damages in Carroll’s case, Trump called the $2 million award for sexual abuse “grossly excessive” because such abuse could have included groping Carroll’s breasts through clothing, “a far cry from rape.”

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But Judge Kaplan said New York’s penal law defines rape much more narrowly than ordinary people think of the term, and that Trump was wrong to insist it excused him.

“The proof convincingly established, and the jury implicitly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long lasting emotional and psychological harm,” the judge wrote.

“Mr. Trump’s argument therefore ignores the bulk of the evidence at trial, misinterprets the jury’s verdict, and (ignored) evidence of what actually occurred between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump,” he added.

The judge also said the evidence justified awarding Carroll $3 million for defamation, rejecting Trump’s claim that the award was based on “pure speculation” about how Carroll’s reputation was harmed.

Carroll filed her first lawsuit in November 2019.

Click to play video: 'Donald Trump sexually abused, defamed writer E. Jean Carroll, jury rules'
Donald Trump sexually abused, defamed writer E. Jean Carroll, jury rules

She amended it after Trump disparaged her in a CNN town hall one day after the $5 million verdict, calling her account “fake” and her a “whack job.”

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Trump is also suing Carroll for defamation, after she said “oh yes, he did; oh yes, he did” when asked on CNN about the jury finding that he did not commit rape.

Carroll wants to dismiss that claim, saying her statement was “substantially true” and reflected her thoughts as the verdict was read.

The case is Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10016. Carroll’s original lawsuit is Carroll v Trump in the same court, No. 20-07311.
–Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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