NEW YORK (AP) — A jury has awarded an additional $83.3 million to former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.
The verdict was delivered Friday by a seven-man, two-woman jury in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who abruptly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to later return.
Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.
It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.
In May, a different jury awarded Carroll $5 million. It found Trump not liable for rape, but responsible for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her by claiming she made it up. He is appealing that award.
Trump skipped the first trial. He later expressed regret for not attending and insisted on testifying in the second trial, though the judge limited what he could say, ruling he had missed his chance to argue that he was innocent. He spent only a few minutes on the witness stand Thursday, during which he denied attacking Carroll, then left court grumbling “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. Jurors were not asked to re-decide the issue of whether the sex attack actually happened.
Carroll’s attorneys had requested $24 million in compensatory damages and “an unusually high punitive award.”
Her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, urged jurors in her closing argument Friday to punish Trump enough that he would stop a steady stream of public statements smearing Carroll as a liar and a “whack job.”
Trump shook his head vigorously as 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.