U.S. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled Wednesday that former President Donald Trump defamed writer E. Jean Carroll in 2019 when he denied that he had raped her. He said that a jury would decide the amount of Trump’s damages.
NBC News reported:
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Donald Trump is civilly liable for defamatory statements he made about writer E. Jean Carroll in 2019 when she went public with claims he had raped her decades earlier.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, as part of that ruling, said the upcoming trial for Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump will only deal with the question of how much the former president should pay her in monetary damages for defaming her.
Trump is appealing Judge Kaplan’s dismissal of his own claim that Carroll defamed the former president when she reiterated her claim that Trump had raped her. Trump’s argument is based on the fact that jurors at the trial in May had not found that he raped Carroll, but had instead sexually abused her.
In May, a jury in New York found Trump liable for sexual abuse, though not for rape, even though Carroll could not remember the year of the alleged assault, decades before, and even though there were no witnesses to the event.
Kaplan nevertheless ruled in June that it could be said that Trump had “raped” Carroll — contrary to the jury’s finding — because, he said, Trump’s alleged behavior fit within common understandings of the word “rape.”
He found that since the jury decided Trump had abused Carroll, that his denials were defamatory. Trump’s lawyers plan to appeal, and they say they are confident that Judge Kaplan’s rulings will be overturned by higher courts.
The judge’s decision Wednesday was a summary judgment finding in Carroll’s favor. The trial that will decide the amount of Trump’s damages is scheduled to begin Jan. 15, just before the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential primary.
Many of Trump’s criminal trials are also set to coincide with key dates in the election calendar. His trial in Fulton County, Georgia, for example, has been set for Mar. 4, 2024, the day before the Super Tuesday primaries.