Judge Shuts Down Trump’s Hopes Of Easing Defamation Verdict

Two months after a jury decided that Donald Trump sexually assaulted and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll, a federal judge refused his request for a new trial on Wednesday.

In his move for a new trial, Trump claimed that the $2 million in compensatory damages for the sexual abuse claim was excessive since the jury held him guilty of sexual abuse but not rape, which Carroll initially charged.

The jury awarded her $2.7 million in compensatory damages for the defamation claim, but he claimed that the amount should be lowered since he contested the testimony of an expert witness. Trump further claimed that the $228,000 in punitive penalties was awarded in violation of his due process rights.

Carroll often said that Trump raped her in the 1990s while they were both using the changing room at a high-end boutique in Manhattan. During the trial, however, she testified that he had pierced her with his fingers, but she couldn’t be sure that his penis had been placed since he had pushed so closely against her that she couldn’t see.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan stated in his 59-page ruling that proof convincingly established that Trump forcibly penetrated the plaintiff’s vagina with his fingers. 

Trump’s legal team requested that Kaplan lower the jury award to less than $1 million or retry the case to determine damages. 

While the jury favored Carroll on all counts, Kaplan noted that they discovered that Carroll had failed to show that Trump had raped her.

The judge ruled that rape only applies to genital penetration by a penis, whereas genital penetration by fingers or any other object is classified as “sexual abuse” rather than “rape.”

Rape, he argued, was defined “far narrower” than in contemporary use, dictionaries, federal and state criminal legislation, and other sources.

Carroll testified for three days at trial that Trump sexually assaulted her in the dressing room of the midtown Manhattan store on a desolate floor near the lingerie section after flirting at the store’s entrance while shopping for a garment for one of Trump’s friends. 

After the trial, Carroll, now 79, claimed an additional $10 million in compensatory damages and an undetermined amount in punitive damages for slander.

Since Carroll insisted even after the verdict that she had been raped, Trump has filed a countersuit, claiming she defamed him.