Donald Trump Is on the Hook for $88.3 Million in Defamation Damages. What Happens Next?

E. Jean Carroll exits the Manhattan Federal Court following the verdict in the civil rape accusation case against former U.S. President Donald Trump, in New York City, May 9, 2023. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, Donald Trump hurled insults at E. Jean Carroll, saying the advice columnist fabricated a sexual assault allegation against him to sell a book.

Will Trump keep that up, now that he’s been hit with a $83.3 million defamation judgment?

A jury on Friday found that Trump had maliciously damaged Carroll’s reputation in 2019 after she went public with her accusations. Jurors awarded her $18 million to compensate for the personal harm she experienced, then added $65 million more to punish Trump — and maybe prevent him from continuing to go after her on social media.

A different jury concluded last May that Trump was responsible for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store dressing room in 1996. Those jurors awarded Carroll $5 million. If both judgments stand, Trump would owe her a total of $88.3 million.

Trump and his lawyers have promised to appeal.

A look at the verdict and where the case might go from here:


Carroll said she was shopping at the Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue in 1996 when she bumped into Trump, who lived nearby. She said they recognized each other. At the time, Carroll had a column in Elle magazine and was the host of a cable TV talk show called “Ask E. Jean.”

In court testimony and in her memoir, Carroll said she and Trump went to the store’s lingerie section and then into a dressing room as each tried to persuade the other to try on a lacy item. When they moved into the dressing room, she said, Trump pushed her into a wall, pulled down her tights and sexually assaulted her. Carroll said she broke free and ran.

After she wrote about the alleged encounter in 2019, Trump, who by then has been elected president, told reporters he had no idea who Carroll was, that her accusation was “totally false” and that she motivated by a desire to sell books.


Carroll sued Trump for defamation in 2019, saying his statements about her were false and damaged her reputation. That claim wound up being bogged down for years over the legal question of whether, in denying the allegations, Trump had been fulfilling his duties as president. Trump claimed that the presidency shield him from liability against the defamation lawsuit.

In the meantime, New York changed its law to give sexual abuse survivors a fresh chance to sue civilly over attacks that happened in the distant past. Carroll was one of the first people to take advantage, filing a new legal claim against Trump alleging that he had raped her. She also sued over things he had said about her after leaving the White House.

Trump was not criminally charged. The civil verdict, however, has led many to mistakenly believe he was convicted of sexually assaulting Carroll. Under state law, too much time had passed since the alleged assault in 1996 for a criminal case to be considered against Trump.

A jury heard testimony in that lawsuit last year and found that while Carroll had not proved she had been raped, under New York’s definition of that crime, Trump had sexually abused her.