(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York on Monday rejected former President Donald Trump’s counterclaim against former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.
Trump accused Carroll of defaming him with statements she made in media appearances following her successful defamation and battery lawsuit against him, which resulted in a $5 million damage award. Trump’s counterclaim said Carroll’s statements caused “significant harm to his reputation,” making him deserving of compensatory and punitive damages.
Carroll’s remarks came after a New York jury in May found Trump liable for sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s, then defaming her in a 2022 Truth Social post by calling her allegations “a Hoax and a lie.”
In her media appearances following the verdict, Carroll insisted that Trump had raped her despite the jury finding Carroll did not prove Trump raped her as the term is defined in New York penal law. Instead the jury found Trump “sexually abused” Carroll.
Judge Lewis Kaplan said the jury’s finding “implicitly determined that he forcibly penetrated her” with his fingers.
“[I]n other words, that Mr. Trump in fact did ‘rape’ Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside New York Penal Law,” Kaplan wrote in granting Carroll’s motion to dismiss Trump’s counterclaim.
“The instructions with respect to the rape question thus made clear that if the jury found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, but not also with his penis, it was obliged to answer ‘no’ to the rape question,” the judge wrote. “However, if it found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll digitally, it was obliged to answer ‘yes’ to the sexual abuse question, as the New York Penal Law definition of ‘sexual abuse’ encompasses such conduct.”
Carroll’s original defamation lawsuit, based on statements Trump made in 2019, is scheduled to go to trial in January.
Responding to Monday’s ruling, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said they were pleased that the court dismissed Trump’s counterclaim.
“That means that the January 15th jury trial will be limited to a narrow set of issues and shouldn’t take very long to complete,” Kaplan said. “E. Jean Carroll looks forward to obtaining additional compensatory and punitive damages based on the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made in 2019.”
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