Author E. Jean Carroll and the attorneys who helped her win a battery defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump are considering whether they could sue Trump yet again over virtually the same defamation arguments.
In 2019, Carroll came forward with claims Trump raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996. Trump denied the allegations at the time and Carroll sued him, arguing that Trump had defamed her by denying her claims.
Carroll’s defamation argument stemmed from an Oct. 12, 2022, post on Trump’s account on his Truth Social platform. In the post, Trump said, “This ‘Ms. Bergdorf Goodman case’ is a complete con job, and our legal system in this Country, but especially in New York State (just look at Peekaboo James), is a broken disgrace.” The Truth social post went on to say, “E. Jean Carroll is not telling the truth, is a woman who I had nothing to do with, didn’t know, and would have no interest in knowing her if I ever had the chance.”
Carroll’s civil complaint (pdf) states that in the Oct. 12 statement “Trump falsely stated that he did not rape Carroll,” “Trump falsely stated that he had no idea who Carroll was,” and “Trump falsely implied and affirmatively intended to imply that Carroll had invented the rape accusation as a ‘hoax,’ ‘scam,’ or ploy to increase her book sales.”
On Tuesday, a jury in a New York federal court decided that Carroll did not prove that Trump raped her but instead concluded he had committed some act of sexual abuse constituting battery. The jury further concluded that Trump had defamed her by denying the incident. The jury concluded that he should pay $5 million in the civil lawsuit.
Trump denied Carroll’s allegations throughout the case and has continued to deny the allegations after the defamation verdict, including during his CNN town hall the day after the jury verdict.
Trump’s Town Hall Comments
During his CNN town hall appearance, moderator Kaitlin Collins asked Trump to address whether the verdict disqualifies him as a 2024 presidential candidate. Trump initially responded that his polling numbers are on the rise despite the case and that his legal team had not been able to make certain arguments during the trial.
“This was a jury of nine people who found you liable of sexual abuse. Do you think that that will deter women from voting for you?” Collins asked.
“No, I don’t think so because I think the whole thing—just so you understand—ready: I never met this woman. I never saw this woman,” Trump said.
Trump then gave an interpretation of Carroll’s claims about how the episode occurred, which stirred laughter from the live audience in attendance.
“I met her in the front door of Bergdorf Goodman. I was immediately attracted to her and she was immediately attracted to me. And we had this great chemistry. We’re walking into a crowded department store. We had this great chemistry. And a few minutes later, we end up in a room, a dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman, right near the cash register,” Trump said of her claims. “And then she found out that there were locks in the door. She said, ‘I found one that was open.’ She found one, she learned this at trial. She found one that was open. What kind of a woman meet somebody and brings them up and within minutes, you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room, okay?”
As the discussion went on Trump noted that the jury had specifically determined that he had not raped Carroll. The CNN moderator then noted the sexual abuse determination.
“They said ‘he didn’t rape her,'” Trump replied. “And I didn’t do anything else either. You know what? Because I have no idea who the hell she is. I don’t know who this woman is,” Trump said.
“I swear on my children—which I never do—I have no idea who this woman. This is a fake story, made up story,” Trump added. “We had a horrible Clinton-appointed judge. He was horrible. He allowed her to put everything in. He allowed us to put nothing in. This is a fake story.”
By continuing to deny having known Carroll, he could potentially expose himself to the same legal arguments that served as the premise for Carroll’s original defamation claim; claims for which Trump was already found liable. Carroll and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, discussed this very possibility in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday.
According to The NY Times, Kaplan said that “a decision would be made soon on whether Ms. Carroll will file another defamation suit in light of Mr. Trump’s comments on CNN.”
“Everything’s on the table, obviously, and we have to give serious consideration to it,” Kaplan told the publication.
NTD News reached out to lawyers representing Trump, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Trump Team Preparing Appeal
Because the original case was brought in civil court, Carroll was required to establish her battery claim by “a preponderance of the evidence” and her defamation claim by “clear and convincing evidence.” Both of these standards are lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement to convict a defendant in a criminal case.
Trump and his lawyers have already indicated they will appeal the original jury verdict.
One of Trump’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, has argued that the rape accusation was a crucial element of Carroll’s allegations and that the jury’s conclusion that Trump had not raped Carroll was significant.
“Strange verdict,” Tacopina told reporters outside the courthouse on Tuesday. “It was a rape case all along, and the jury rejected that.”
“We’ll obviously be appealing those other findings,” Tacopina added.
A Wednesday post on Trump’s Truth Social account reads, “I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN, WHO MADE A FALSE AND TOTALLY FABRICATED ACCUSATION, IS. HOPEFULLY JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED ON APPEAL!”
Alan Dershowitz, a prominent legal scholar who taught at Harvard Law School for 50 years, said Carroll’s case should never have been allowed to stand based on procedural grounds alone. Dershowitz specifically criticized allowing the case more than two decades after the alleged incident occurred.
“The historical purpose of a statute of limitations is to make sure you don’t have to stand trial for something that occurred 25 years ago—in this case, even more than that,” Dershowitz said. “How do you remember things? How do you know where you were? Maybe he was in Europe at the time. She hasn’t even given the dates and the times of the year.”
In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits over certain sex crimes, but the timeframe did not apply retroactively. Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul enacted legislation known as the “Adult Survivors Act” which granted a one-year lookback window for people to file civil lawsuits over sex crime claims that happened at any point in the past.