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Jury awards E. Jean Carroll $83M in defamation suit against Donald Trump

Writer E. Jean Carroll departs from the courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. The jury found Donald Trump must pay Carroll $83.3 million for defamatory statements he made against her in 2019. The total is more than eight times what Carroll asked for in her initial lawsuit. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements, a jury decided Friday afternoon.

The jury rendered a verdict at approximately 4:30 p.m. EST after deliberating for just under three hours. Jurors determined Trump must pay Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages for defaming her in 2019 after she accused him of a sexual assault that happened in 1990.

"This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down," Carroll said in a statement.

Trump was not in the courtroom when the jury announced its decision. In a post on Truth Social, he said the verdict was "absolutely ridiculous," and that he would appeal.

"Our legal system is out of control and being used as a political weapon," the post read. "They have taken away all First Amendment rights. This is not America!"

A jury in New York ruled Friday that former President Donald Trump (C) must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements. File Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI
A jury in New York ruled Friday that former President Donald Trump (C) must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements. File Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI

Trump attorney Alina Habba echoed the former president's sentiment when she addressed the news media outside of the courthouse.

"We will immediately appeal and we will set aside that ridiculous verdict," Habba said. "I assure you -- we didn't win today, but we will win."

Writer E. Jean Carroll departs from the courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Writer E. Jean Carroll departs from the courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Closing arguments Friday morning were fraught with conflict. Trump walked out of the courtroom during the plaintiff's closing statements. The walkout came after warnings from U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan about defense comments straying outside the scope of the trial.

During one of the tense moments before the jury entered the court, Habba insisted that she show a slide show made up of Trump's social media posts connected with Carroll. She persisted after Kaplan rejected the idea and then warned her not to continue.

Journalist E. Jean Carroll (pictured arriving at court Friday morning) was awarded $83.3 million in damages against former President Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. She previously sought at least $12 million. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Journalist E. Jean Carroll (pictured arriving at court Friday morning) was awarded $83.3 million in damages against former President Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. She previously sought at least $12 million. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"You are on the verge of spending time in the lockup, now sit down," Kaplan said in rejecting Habba's repeated attempts to use the slideshow in her closing.

Carroll's attorney Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, had just started her closing when Trump walked out. She asked the jury to consider awarding $12 million, more than double what Carroll won in the original defamation case against Trump.

A jury in New York ruled Friday that former President Donald Trump (C) must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A jury in New York ruled Friday that former President Donald Trump (C) must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"We're all human beings, and we're all capable of understanding the pain and suffering Ms. Carroll has experienced," Kaplan said, according to CNN.

"In our view, the damage to Ms. Carroll's sense of self -- to her peace of mind -- the feeling that we all have that we can go about our lives every day and not be suddenly attacked or raped or killed is very significant, so the dollar number to compensate for that has to be very large."

Writer E. Jean Carroll (2nd from L) departs from the courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down," Carroll said afterward. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Writer E. Jean Carroll (2nd from L) departs from the courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on Friday. "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down," Carroll said afterward. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Trump returned to the courtroom as his lawyer began closing arguments. During his absence, the former president issued a string of posts on Truth Social accusing Judge Caplan of refusing him his "constitutional right to due process" and condemning the case as a "Biden-demanded witch hunt against his political opponent."

He has repeatedly called Carroll's sexual abuse allegations false and described her in unflattering language.

Despite Kaplan ordering Trump to limit his comments on the alleged defamation in question on Thursday, Trump went on to address Carroll's original sexual abuse allegations.

Carroll sought compensatory damages from Trump for the comments made June 19, 20 and 21 while Trump was president, along with damages for emotional harm and punitive damages.

Trump, for his part, continued to deny ever meeting Carroll, much less assaulting her. He said that he stood by the statements on which he is being challenged.

"I never met the woman," Trump said Thursday without the jury present, according to ABC News. "I do not know who this woman is. I was not at the trial. I don't know who this woman is."

In comments that were later ordered stricken by Kaplan, Trump said he has the right to push back against the allegations.

"I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, frankly, the presidency," Trump said in his testimony.

After the verdict was reached, Kaplan thanked the jury for its service and offered a suggestion about interacting with the media.

"My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury, and I won't say anything more about it," Kaplan said.