Donald Trump guilty of malicious falsehood

Judith Thompson  27-07-2023

The civil case of E Jean Carroll v Donald Trump, was decided by the jury earlier this year.

The former US president, Donald Trump faces a financial sanction over accusations of battery and defamation with Ms E Jean Carroll to receive damages of $5 million.

The former Elle magazine writer alleged that in 1966, Mr Trump raped her in a changing room of a department store. Mr Trump denied the accusations and alleged Ms Carroll was a “complete con job”, falsifying the accusation to simply sell books.

Although the jury did not find enough evidence to confirm that rape had taken place, they did find evidence of sexual abuse and malicious falsehood that caused Damage to Ms Carroll's reputation.

With the state of New York passing the Adult Survivors Act, it allowed victims such as E Jean Carroll with a one-year window of opportunity to file sexual assault lawsuits in older cases such as hers. With the results of the 2019 #MeToo campaign, it’s said that many have been encouraged to speak up about their experiences.

Ms Carroll also brought a lawsuit against Mr Trump for defamation. His responses to her 2019 allegations were found to be highly defamatory.

Previously, his lawyers had argued that Mr Trump was legally immune as at the time he made the remarks, he was president. However, during the trial, government attorneys said there was not “sufficient basis” to conclude that Mr Trump had acted within the scope of his duties. The Justice Department said: “Mr Trump was motivated by a 'personal grievance' stemming from events that occurred many years prior to Mr Trump's presidency”. 

The jury found that Ms Carroll had been defamed by Mr Trump's responses, when he called her a liar and a hoax  - a line of argument which he continued in court. Although Mr Trump was not present during the trial and did not testify, with his lawyer Joseph Tacopina saying it was because he did not have a “story to tell here, other than to say it’s a lie” the jury was shown his deposition in which he denied the accusations of sexual abuse on the basis that Ms Carroll was not his “type”. The irony was that Mr Trump went onto mistake a photo of Ms Carroll, for his ex-wife Marla Maples.

Despite this verdict, Mr Trump continues to deny the allegations (as well as similar allegations of sexual assault from those such as Jessica Leeds) and suggests that he was “treated very badly by the Clinton-appointed judge” and that the case was “bogus”.

Although this verdict confirms Mr Trump’s predatory and defamatory behaviour, due to the nature of the case, Mr Trump will only face financial sanctions at this current point in time.

However, the federal judge did conclude that Ms Carroll could bring a $10 million defamation case against Mr Trump which is expected to begin in 2024. This was despite Mr Trump arguing for the defamation trial to be struck out due to the jury concluding that the rape did not occur, although this has not been granted.

In England & Wales, malicious falsehood and defamation claims are decided by a judge alone, rather than a jury. This is one of the reasons that damages are higher than those awarded in the English Courts. 

If you are the victim of libel on social media, or in any other context, one of our expert solicitors would be happy to speak to you. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Article credit: Emily Clemence


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