E. Gene Carroll exits Manhattan federal court following the verdict in the civil rape allegations against former President Donald Trump in New York City on May 9, 2023.
Brendan McDiarmid | Reuters
A federal judge on Thursday denied Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss a civil libel suit filed by author E. Jean Carroll, who claims he was defamed after being accused of sexual assault by the former president.
Judge Louis Kaplan said in federal district court in Manhattan that Trump’s request to dismiss the lawsuit was “unfounded.”
The ruling follows a series of recent twists and turns in the multi-year legal battle between Trump and Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s, Decades later, he claimed to have defamed her when he made her story public.
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney and independent of the judge, said in a statement that the ruling showed that Trump’s defense of the defamation claim was “not working.”
“Trump chose to relinquish his presidential privilege, but now must accept the consequences of that decision,” the attorney said.
“We disagree with the court’s decision and will take appropriate steps to preserve all viable defenses,” Trump’s attorney Alina Hubba said in a statement to CNBC.
Two days earlier, Trump filed a counterclaim against Carroll in the same lawsuit, alleging defamation for continuing to publicly say he raped Carroll.
His counterclaim points to multiple statements by Carroll, among which a jury in another related civil lawsuit found that Trump accused Carroll of sexually abusing and defaming him. It also includes statements she made the day after she was found responsible.
But the jury that ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in damages in a May 9 verdict did not find Trump guilty of rape charges. When asked about that finding by her jury in a CNN interview, Carroll replied, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Trump’s lawyers had moved to dismiss the first lawsuit in December. He claimed he had “absolute immunity” for making the offending remarks during his presidency. Lawyers also argued that Carroll’s defamation claims did not meet legal standards.
Kaplan was unwavering in his 46-page verdict Thursday afternoon. “Trump has not identified any connection between the defamatory content of his remarks and the president’s official responsibility, nor can the court see any connection,” he said. wrote.
Carroll filed his first defamation lawsuit against Trump in 2019, when he was still president. After a description of her sexual assault appeared in New York Magazine, President Trump repeatedly denied the allegations, at one point saying, “She’s not my type.”
Carroll filed a second civil suit against Trump in 2022. The day after the case’s verdict was reversed, Trump lashed out at Carroll on CNN’s live Town Hall event, again denying her allegations.
Shortly after, Carroll amended her complaint in the original lawsuit, seeking more than $10 million in monetary damages to include President Trump’s latest comments. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on January 15, 2024.