A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that former President Donald Trump is liable for allegedly making defamatory remarks about writer E. Jean Carroll after she first publicly accused him four years ago of sexually assaulting her at a Manhattan department store during the mid-1990s.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York said an upcoming trial scheduled for January 2024 “shall be limited to the issue of damages only.”
“The truth or falsity of Mr. Trump’s 2019 statements therefore depends — like the truth or falsity of his 2022 statement — on whether Ms. Carroll lied about Mr. Trump sexually assaulting her. The jury’s finding that she did not therefore is binding in this case and precludes Mr. Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements,” Kaplan wrote in a 25-page ruling.
Trump lost a legal battle against Carroll earlier this year when a New York federal jury found the former president allegedly committed battery against the former columnist and later defamed her while denying her claim. Trump, who has long denied the allegations against him from Carroll, appealed the jury’s verdict in which he was ordered to pay $5 million in damages.
Carroll sued Trump last November in New York, the same day a new law opened a one-time, one-year window for adult sexual assault survivors outside the statute of limitations to seek civil damages for sexual battery.
Trump’s legal team filed the counterclaim in June, which said Carroll “disregarded the jury’s finding that Counterclaimant did not rape her,” as part of a separate defamation lawsuit brought by the writer in 2019 and set to go to trial in January. But Kaplan tossed the counterclaim last month.
Judge Kaplan also denied a bid from Trump’s attorneys to reduce any more damages awarded to Carroll.
Trump has dismissed his losses to Carroll as “a Miscarriage of Justice and a total Scam” on his Truth Social page.
“The trial was very unfair, with the other side being able to do and present virtually anything they wanted, and our side being largely and wrongfully shut down by an absolutely hostile, biased, and out of control judge,” he wrote in July.
Trump attorney Alina Habba reportedly argued that Carroll’s earlier case would nullify the judge’s ruling if the appeals court favored the former president’s claim.
“We remain very confident that the Carroll II verdict will be overturned on appeal, which will render this decision moot,” Habba told NBC News in a statement. “We also anticipate that the Second Circuit will stay this trial as it considers the meritorious defenses that have been raised by President Trump.”
Trump is running a 2024 campaign for a second term in the White House. In addition to civil litigation, he faces multiple indictments at the state and federal levels. The former president broadly denies any wrongdoing, claiming he is the target of a “witch hunt.”
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.