A federal judge ruled that the jury hearing E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit will only need to decide how much money Donald Trump will have to pay her, after the judge found the former president was liable for making defamatory statements.
The finding is a significant blow to Trump, who is facing numerous criminal indictments and civil lawsuits – many of them coming to a head as he embarks on a presidential campaign.
Judge Lewis Kaplan said that a federal jury’s verdict earlier this year against Trump will carry over to the defamation case set to go to trial in January involving statements Trump made in 2019 about Carroll’s sexual assault allegations.
Carroll, a former magazine columnist, alleged Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim.
In May after a two-week trial, a jury found Trump sexually abused Carroll and defamed her when he said in 2022 that he didn’t rape her, didn’t know her, and that she wasn’t his “type.”
In that case, the jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.
“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 judge ruled Wednesday. “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 ruled the trial set for January 15 will be limited to damages.
Although her initial lawsuit was filed in 2019, the judge previously allowed Carroll to include comments Trump made at a CNN town hall earlier this year.
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On Wednesday, Kaplan also rejected Trump’s argument that any future damages be capped, meaning the previous award shouldn’t be a factor for the jury. Carroll is seeking more than $10 million in damages.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He has appealed the jury’s verdict and all rulings against him.
This story has been updated with additional details.