Punitive Penalties and Reputational Justice: Trump Ordered to Pay $83.3 Million in Defamation Case


In a recent defamation lawsuit, former US President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll a staggering amount of around $83.3 million (R$409 million) in damages. Carroll, a writer, accused Trump of destroying her credibility as a journalist after he denied raping her over 30 years ago. After a trial that lasted several hours, the jury unanimously found Trump guilty and awarded Carroll more than she had initially requested, which was around $10 million (R$49 million).

The compensatory damages verdict amounted to $18.3 million (R$89.96 million), while the punitive damages award exceeded $65 million (R$320 million). Punitive damages are often imposed to penalize a defendant for their actions. This decision marks a significant victory for Carroll and sends a strong message that false accusations and defamation will not go unpunished.

Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump was filed in November 2019, after he had repeatedly denied the rape allegations for five months. According to Carroll, the incident took place in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s. Trump, on the other hand, claimed that Carroll fabricated the story to boost the sales of her biography and that he had never even met her before.

This was not the first trial related to Carroll’s allegations against Trump. In May, a jury found Trump guilty of sexually assaulting her and defaming her in 2022, resulting in an award of nearly $5 million (R$24.5 million) in damages. Carroll, during her testimony, stated that she never reported the incident to the hospital or the police but saw her book as an opportunity to share her experiences with sexual assault, inspired by the Me Too movement.

The impact of Trump’s defamatory remarks on Carroll’s reputation cannot be overstated. The 80-year-old writer has faced relentless attacks on various social media platforms, including Truth Social, Trump’s own platform. According to Carroll, her image has been tarnished, and she has been subjected to relentless online abuse and harassment. This has led to a significant decline in the number of solicitations for her expertise, from 200 emails per month before the case to a mere eight at present.

Carroll’s legal team argued that Trump’s remarks caused reputational harm ranging from $7.3 million to $12.1 million (R$35.48 million to R$59.48 million). A damages expert from Northwestern University supported these claims, emphasizing the severe impact of Trump’s defamation on Carroll’s personal and professional life.

Throughout the trial, Trump maintained a defensive stance, dismissing the rulings as a “scam” and a “witch hunt.” He even left the courtroom at one point, only to return for his own counsel’s case. Trump criticized the judicial system, claiming it has become a political weapon and that his right to free speech has been violated.

In response to the verdict, Trump expressed his strong disagreement and vowed to challenge the entire investigation, accusing it of being orchestrated by President Biden to target him and the Republican Party. He also urged Carroll to file an appeal.

The outcome of this defamation lawsuit represents a significant victory for E. Jean Carroll and sets an important precedent in holding individuals accountable for their defamatory actions. It emphasizes the importance of integrity and truth in journalism and sends a powerful message that no one is above the law, regardless of their status or position.