Trump appeals dismissal of defamation claim against E. Jean Carroll

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Donald Trump on Thursday appealed a judge’s dismissal of his claim that the writer E. Jean Carroll defamed him by accusing him of rape, after a jury awarded her $5 million for defamation and sexual abuse but not rape.

The former president asked the federal appeals court in Manhattan to overturn an Aug. 7 decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that also rejected some of his defenses in a second defamation lawsuit by Carroll.

Kaplan said the May 9 verdict reflected a finding that Trump “deliberately and forcibly” penetrated Carroll’s vagina with his fingers.

He said that amounted to rape as people commonly use the term, though state law defines it more narrowly, establishing the “substantial truth of Ms. Carroll’s ‘rape’ accusations.”

Carroll, 79, a former Elle magazine columnist, is seeking at least $10 million from Trump, 77, in her second lawsuit.

Both cases stemmed from Trump’s denials that he raped Carroll in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.

Lawyers for Carroll did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A trial in the second lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024, but Trump wants it put on hold during his separate appeal of Kaplan’s June 29 refusal to dismiss it.

Carroll’s lawyers opposed that request on Thursday, saying she has waited long enough, and the public would be “poorly served” by granting Trump an “effectively indefinite delay.”

Trump is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

He has also pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in three separate criminal indictments, including over his effort to reverse his 2020 election loss and his role in events leading to the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

In suing Carroll, Trump said she tarred his reputation by maintaining in comments on CNN following the jury verdict that he had raped her.

The case is Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-07311.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)