Trump loses key ruling ahead of writer Carroll’s defamation trial

NEW YORK: A federal judge on Wednesday said the writer E. Jean Carroll’s second trial against Donald Trump stemming from her claim that he raped her will be limited to damages only, in a defeat for the former US president.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said Trump defamed the former Elle magazine columnist in June 2019 by denying he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s, and claiming she concocted the attack to boost sales of her memoir.

Kaplan also said a May jury verdict in a separate civil case where Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million for sexual assault and a similar Oct. 2022 defamation eliminated the need to relitigate what took place and whether Trump defamed Carroll.

“The jury considered and decided issues that are common to both cases,” and its verdict and the undisputed facts “establish that Mr. Trump’s 2019 statements were made with actual malice,” the judge wrote.

Kaplan also rejected Trump’s claim that any damages awarded to Carroll, who is seeking $10 million, should be reduced because the earlier verdict covered some of them and she did not deserve to recover twice.

Carroll, 79, has argued that Trump’s first defamation caused her more harm, including to her reputation, than his second.

Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, said she looked forward to the scheduled Jan. 15, 2024 trial. She and the judge are not related.

The case is among many legal problems that Trump, 77, faces as he runs again for the White House.

These include four separate criminal indictments, including two for attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases.

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