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In the second lawsuit Carroll has filed against the GOP front-runner for president in 2024, former President Donald Trump was found responsible on Wednesday for defaming former columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The pending trial will only be used to ascertain damages as a result of the “partial summary judgment” in the case.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, ruled that Trump defamed Carroll by denying in June 2019 that he had sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s and by accusing her of lying about the incident in order to promote her book. Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million for the sexual assault by a jury in a civil case in May.
“Kaplan also rejected Trump’s claim that any damages awarded to Carroll, who is seeking $10 million, should be reduced because the earlier verdict covered some of them and she did not deserve to recover twice,” reported Reuters of the ruling.
Judge Kaplan wrote that the “jury found that Mr. Trump knew that his statement that Ms. Carroll lied about him sexually assaulting her for improper and ulterior purposes was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether it was false. Whether Mr. Trump made the 2019 statements with actual malice raises the same issue.”
“The jury considered and decided issues that are common to both cases,” Kaplan concluded.
The case will still go to trial, starting on January 15—the same day as the Iowa Republican primary—but only to ascertain how much Trump will have to pay Carroll in damages.
JUST IN: Judge Kaplan grants “partial summary judgment” to Jean CARROLL in her second lawsuit against Donald Trump.
Trial will be limited to determining damages: https://t.co/Fh8sYfArcS
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 6, 2023
Last month, Judge Kaplan rejected Trump’s claim that Carroll defamed him “with statements she made in media appearances following her successful defamation and battery lawsuit against him, which resulted in a $5 million damage award,” ABC News reported.
Trump’s lawyers argued that Carroll’s statements caused “significant harm to his reputation,” which made him entitled to punitive and compensatory damages.
Carroll’s comments followed a verdict from a New York jury in May, which held Trump accountable for sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room during the 1990s. He subsequently defamed her in a 2022 Truth Social post by dismissing her allegations as “a Hoax and a lie.”
In her public appearances after the verdict, Carroll maintained that Trump had raped her, even though the jury concluded that Carroll hadn’t demonstrated Trump’s guilt for rape according to the definition in New York penal law. Rather, the jury determined that Trump had “sexually abused” Carroll.
Judge Kaplan said the jury’s finding “implicitly determined that he forcibly penetrated her” with his fingers.
“In other words, that Mr. Trump in fact did ‘rape’ Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside New York Penal Law,” Kaplan wrote in his order dismissing Trump’s counterclaim.
“The instructions with respect to the rape question thus made clear that if the jury found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, but not also with his penis, it was obliged to answer ‘no’ to the rape question,” the judge wrote. “However, if it found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll digitally, it was obliged to answer ‘yes’ to the sexual abuse question, as the New York Penal Law definition of ‘sexual abuse’ encompasses such conduct.”
Carroll’s original lawsuit alleging that Trump defamed her in 2019 while he was president is scheduled to go to trial in January, ABC News noted.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, responded to the judge’s ruling.
“That means that the January 15th jury trial will be limited to a narrow set of issues and shouldn’t take very long to complete,” Kaplan said. “E. Jean Carroll looks forward to obtaining additional compensatory and punitive damages based on the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made in 2019.”