E. Jean Carroll’s claims against Trump, lifestyle back under the spotlight after eye-popping verdict
Former President Donald Trump was ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll $83 million in damages for defaming her after he repeatedly denied allegations he raped her in the 1990s, in a legal ordeal that has been mired in controversy and concerns over the former advice columnist’s accusations.
“Absolutely ridiculous! I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party,” Trump posted on his Truth Social shortly after the verdict was read on Friday. “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights.”
Carroll, who previously worked as a columnist for Elle Magazine, had filed two lawsuits against Trump since 2019, when she first accused him of raping her in an excerpt in her book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.” Trump vehemently denied the allegation, saying, “it never happened,” ultimately leading Carroll to sue Trump for defamation when he was still president.
Carroll filed a second lawsuit against Trump in 2022, accusing the former president of rape and defamation for social media posts where Trump denied the allegations and accused her of promoting a “hoax and a lie.” Carroll was able to sue Trump over the rape accusation despite it being past the statute of limitations due to the passage of a law in New York in 2019 that allowed adults to file a one-time civil case despite the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Trump was never criminally charged with sexual assault, as the statute of limitations had expired. Last spring, jurors found Trump liable for sexual abuse – though not rape – and awarded Carroll $5 million in a judgment. The jury said Carroll hadn’t proven that Trump raped her.
Carroll’s recently-wrapped case sought more than $10 million for damage to her reputation stemming from Trump’s comments in 2019, when he was still president. The jury ultimately awarded her $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.
Amid the trial, Carroll’s attorney told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that Trump was heard remarking that the trial was a “witch hunt, and it really is a con job.”
“Mr. Trump has a right to be present here. That right can be forfeited if he is disruptive and if he disregards court orders,” Kaplan said before threatening to boot Trump from the trial if he “can’t control” himself.
Amid court proceedings and immediately following, supporters of the president and social media critics have sounded off with previous remarks Carroll has made that raised concerns about her recounting, including her 2019 interview on CNN where she argued “most people” view rape as “sexy.”
“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” Carroll told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in 2019, before the anchor cut to a commercial break.
Trump, along with his supporters, have argued his hands were tied amid the trial as the judge barred some evidence from being shown to the jury, including the Cooper interview. Trump said last week that the CNN interview would “totally” exonerate him from a “decades old accusation.”
The judge presiding over the case also barred Trump’s legal team from arguing he didn’t sexually assault Carroll, or “that she fabricated her account of the assault, or that she had any motive to do so.” Kaplan ruled that the case would not be a “do over” of the case last year when Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, but not criminally charged with sexual assault.
“Donald Trump is not allowed to call his accuser E Jean Carroll a nut job. So we can do it for him,” one X user posted this month, accompanied by a 2017 interview between Carroll and Elle Magazine. In the interview, Carroll showed off her cabin home, called the “Mouse House,” as well as rocks she had painted blue, and a shed decked out with names of books and authors who influenced her in her youth.
Carroll also came under fire for tweets about learning “sex tips” from her dog, as well as for naming her cat “Vagina T. Fireball,” according to a 2019 Vanity Fair article, and one of her dogs “Tits,” according to the 2017 video interview with Elle Magazine.
Carroll said in her memoir that in 1995 or 1996, she saw Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan, where she claims the two exchanged shopping banter before he attacked her in a dressing room in the store’s lingerie department. The year of the incident was later clarified to the spring of 1996. The department store previously confirmed it had no surveillance footage to prove or disprove the attack, New York magazine previously reported.
Trump said in a Truth Social post Thursday that Carroll allegedly changed the timeline of her recounting of the incident due to previously claiming that she still had the Donna Karan dress she wore the day of the attack, though the dress had not yet been manufactured.
“E. Jean Carroll was forced to change her story about her ‘dress’ when Donna Karan, the designer of the dress, said that it wasn’t conceived or manufactured until long after the date in question. In other words, the Monica Lewinsky type gambit failed badly, then also learning that there was ZERO EVIDENCE on the dress, despite all of the threats. All of this HOAX run and funded by Political Operatives!!!” Trump wrote.
Trump also highlighted on his Truth Social account that Carroll described the encounter as a “fight,” and she had “not been raped.”
“Every woman gets to choose her word. Every woman gets to choose how she describes it. This is my way of saying it. This is my word. My word is ‘fight,'” she explained in an interview with a New York Times podcast in 2019.
“My word is not the victim word. I have not – I have not been raped,” she continued. “I have – something has not been done to me. I fought. That’s the thing.”
Trump said on Truth Social last week that Carroll’s accusations were “false” and “forced into the public eye by Democrat operatives like her lawyer, her finders, and others.”
During last year’s trial, Trump’s legal team and critics drew parallels between Carroll’s allegations and an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which included a plot line where a character discussed role-playing a rape fantasy in Bergdorf Goodman. Carroll said during last year’s trial that she was “aware” of the 2012 episode, but had not seen it.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s accusations, including in the White House when he was president, which is a central argument to Carroll’s case.
“He had the biggest microphone on the planet … He used it to tear her reputation to shreds – to defame her,” Shawn Crowley, one of Carroll’s attorneys, said earlier this month.
“Is it any wonder that when Donald Trump spoke from the White House, people all across the country listened and many, many believed what he said? Of course not,” Crowley added.
Carroll also told the jury this month that due to Trump’s public comments in 2019 regarding the accusations, her life has been threatened and she’s been painted as a “whack job.”
“I spent 50 years building a reputation,” Carroll said last week. “Now I’m known as a liar, a fraud, and a whack job.”
Following the verdict, Carroll said she plans to do “something good” with the funds awarded to her from the case.
Trump, who received support from New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik ahead of the verdict said that court proceedings were “witch hunts,” and his legal team are now working to appeal the verdict. The legal team reportedly plans to use a “conflict of interest” between Carroll’s attorney and Kaplan to appeal the case, the New York Post reported.
“President Trump is leading in the polls, and now we see what you get in New York,” Trump attorney Alina Habba told reporters following the verdict. “It will not deter us, we will keep fighting, and I assure you we didn’t win today, but we will win.”