NEW YORK — (TodayNews) — A federal judge Wednesday upheld a $5 million jury verdict against Donald Trump, dismissing the former president’s claim that the award was excessive and that the jury acquitted him by failing to reach a conclusion in a civil case that he raped a woman. columnist in the dressing room of a luxury department store in the 1990s.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said the jury’s decision in May to award compensation and punitive damages to writer E. Jean Carroll for sexual harassment and defamation was reasonable.
Trump’s lawyers have asked Kaplan to reduce the jury award to less than $1 million or to order a new trial for damages. In their arguments, attorneys said the $2 million in damages awarded to jurors for Carroll’s sexual assault claim was excessive because the jury concluded that Trump did not rape Carroll at Bergdorf Goodman’s Manhattan store in the spring of 1996.
Kaplan wrote that the jury’s unanimous verdict was almost entirely in Carroll’s favor, except that the jury found that she had failed to prove that Trump raped her “in the narrow, technical sense of a certain section of the New York Penal Code.”
The judge said that the section requires penetration of the penis into the vagina, while forcible penetration without consent into the vagina or other body orifices with fingers or anything else is considered “sexual assault” and not “rape.”
He said the definition of rape was “much narrower” than how rape is defined in common modern language, some dictionaries, some federal and state criminal statutes, and elsewhere.
The judge said the verdict does not mean that Carroll “failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her, as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape’.” Indeed… the jury found that Mr. Trump actually did just that.”
The judge said Trump’s lawyers were correct in arguing that the $2 million sexual assault award would be excessive if the jury based the compensatory award on the finding that Trump groped Carroll’s breasts through her clothing or similar behavior. But, he said, that’s not what the jury found.
“There was no evidence of such behavior. Instead, the evidence conclusively established, and the jury indirectly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly entered Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and lasting emotional and psychological harm,” Kaplan wrote.
The judge said Trump’s argument “ignores much of the evidence in court, misinterprets the jury’s verdict, and erroneously focuses on the definition of ‘rape’ in the New York Penal Code, excluding the word’s meaning because it is used so frequently in everyday life. life and evidence of what really happened between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump.”
Lawyers for Trump, leader of the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, did not immediately comment on the judge’s decision.
Attorney Robbie Kaplan, who represents Carroll and is not related to the judge, said in a statement: “Now that the court has denied Trump’s motion for a new trial or sentence reduction, E. Jean Carroll is looking forward to receiving $5. million in damages awarded to her by the jury.”
The lawyer said her client is also looking forward to a second defamation trial against Trump scheduled for January. This claim is based on statements made by Trump when he was president and statements he made after the trial.
Following his sentencing in early May after a two-week trial, Trump continued to claim that he had never met Carroll in a department store and that he did not know her before she claimed in a 2019 memoir that he raped her.
At the trial, Carroll testified for three days, saying that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a midtown Manhattan store on a deserted floor next to the lingerie section after they happened to meet at the store’s entrance and flirt with each other while shopping for clothes. . for one of Trump’s friends. The store is located across the street from Trump Tower.
Trump, 77, did not attend the trial. Last week, he said in a social media post that his lawyers “because of their respect for the Office of the President and distrust of the case, did not want me to testify or even attend the trial…”.
Following the trial, Carroll, 79, added new claims to a pending defamation claim and sought an additional $10 million in damages and significantly more in unspecified punitive damages.
Trump countersued Carroll, saying he was slandered when she continued to claim after her conviction that she was raped.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who claim to have been sexually assaulted, unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll did.
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