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Federal judge tosses Trump's defamation claim against E. Jean Carroll

Trump repeats election lies in CNN town hall
Trump repeats election lies, disparages E. Jean Carroll in CNN town hall 03:32

A federal judge in New York has dismissed former President Donald Trump's counterclaim against the writer E. Jean Carroll, finding that Carroll's assertion that Trump raped her is "substantially true."

A civil trial jury in May found that Trump "sexually abused" Carroll in the mid-1990s and awarded her $5 million, but did not find him liable for "rape." Trump's attorneys claimed she defamed him in an interview the next day, on May 10, when she said he raped her — an allegation she had made repeatedly over the years.

But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, in his 24-page ruling Monday, said the jury found Trump raped Carroll "as the term is understood more broadly."

He wrote that while the jury concluded Trump was not liable for rape according to New York penal code — which requires proof of forceful penetration involving the attacker's genitals — the jurors' conclusion that he was liable for sexually abusing her by forcefully inserting his fingers was an "implicit determination that Mr. Trump digitally raped her."

"Ms. Carroll's statements are 'substantially true,'" Kaplan wrote.

Kaplan's conclusion echoed what he wrote in a July 19 court filing, that "Mr. Trump did in fact digitally rape Ms. Carroll."

"The definition of rape in the New York Penal Law is far narrower than the meaning of 'rape' in common modern parlance, its definition in some dictionaries, in some federal and state criminal statutes, and elsewhere," Kaplan wrote on July 19.

Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan — who is not related to the judge — said Monday she and Carroll are "pleased" with the ruling.

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said, "We strongly disagree with the flawed decision and will be filing an appeal shortly."

Carroll's interview aired the same day as a CNN town hall with Trump, where he called her a "whack job" who "made up" her allegations. That prompted Carroll to file a $10 million defamation claim against Trump — an update to a lawsuit she filed in 2019.

A trial in that suit is scheduled to begin Jan. 15, 2024, the same day as the Iowa caucuses, when Republicans in the state will consider Trump's candidacy for president.

In March, Trump is scheduled to face a criminal trial in a New York state case, in which he is charged with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records in connection with an alleged "hush money" payment before his 2016 presidential election victory.

In May, Trump is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in Florida on 40 federal felony counts related to alleged "willful retention" of national security information after leaving the White House.

Trump has entered not guilty pleas in both cases.

On Aug. 3, Trump entered a not guilty plea in a third criminal case, in which he was charged with four felonies related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election after he was defeated.

Trump has strenuously denied all allegations and accused every prosecutor charging him, and Carroll, of political bias.

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