A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump‘s request for a new trial in a civil case in which a jury found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming columnist E Jean Carroll.
Mr Trump was ordered to pay $5m (£3.9m) in damages, which he argued was excessive based on the jury’s verdict.
The judge ruled that the jury’s 9 May verdict was not a “miscarriage of justice”.
The former president has called the case “part of a political witch hunt”.
Ms Carroll, 79, had accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and then branding the incident a hoax in an October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform. The jury found Mr Trump guilty of battering the columnist, but stopped short of finding the former president guilty of rape.
Mr Trump’s attorneys had argued in their bid for a new trial that “the Court should order a new trial on damages or grant remittitur because contrary to Plaintiff’s claim of rape, the Jury found that she was not raped but was sexually abused by defendant during the 1995/1996 Bergdorf Goodman incident.”
In a 59-page decision on Wednesday, US District judge Lewis Kaplan ruled the jury did not reach “a seriously erroneous result”, in calculating the amount of damages, as argued by Mr Trump’s lawyers, and dismissed his request for a new trial.
Judge Kaplan, who presided over the original trial, wrote that the trial evidence demonstrated Mr Trump “raped” Ms Carroll in the plain sense of the word.
“The finding that Ms Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape’,” Judge Kaplan wrote. “Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr Trump in fact did exactly that.”
Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer representing E Jean Carroll, celebrated Judge Kaplan’s ruling in a statement shared with the BBC.
“E Jean Carroll looks forward to receiving the $5 million in damages that the jury awarded her,” Ms Kaplan said.
She added her client also looks forward to “continuing to hold Trump accountable” in a further defamation trial scheduled to begin early next year.
Ms Carroll has sued Mr Trump for $10m (£7.7m) for statements he made in 2019 that she claims are defamatory.
The US Justice Department initially ruled Mr Trump was legally immune from the lawsuit because he was president when he made the remarks.
But earlier this month, government attorneys said they no longer had “sufficient basis” to conclude Mr Trump was acting within the scope of his duties as president.
The BBC has contacted Mr Trump’s lawyers for comment.
Judge Kaplan’s decision comes as former president Trump is facing a series of legal challenges, including a potential indictment over his alleged role in January 6 insurrection as well as criminal charges in New York related to a hush-money payment to a porn actress.
In the hush-money case, a New York judge delivered another loss for Mr Trump’s legal team on Wednesday rejecting the former president’s request to move an upcoming trial to federal court.
Mr Trump is facing felony charges in New York for falsifying business records over a reimbursement he made to his lawyer for paying porn star Stormy Daniels.
He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and a trial is scheduled for March 2024.
Mr Trump had argued the trial should be moved to federal court because the alleged crimes took place while he was president. But District Judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote in a filing that Mr Trump had failed to show his conduct was related to “any act performed by or for the President”.
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