Warning: This article contains mentions of rape and sexual assault.
A New York judge on Wednesday again found Donald Trump liable for defamation against writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the US ex-president of rape, in a decision opening the door for damages to be awarded.
Trump, the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 White House race, was found liable in a civil trial in May for sexually abusing the onetime magazine columnist in 1996 and for defaming her in comments made last year. The former real estate magnate was ordered to pay her $5 million.
Carroll had also filed a separate civil complaint against Trump for statements he made in 2019 in response to the accusations of rape in her book.
Trump, 77, said Carroll, 79, had made up the story and was only "trying to sell a new book," adding that the writer was "not my type."
That case, beset by procedural delays, was finally scheduled to go to a jury trial in January 2024.
But now that jury will only decide on how much Trump owes Carroll in additional damages for the 2019 comments, after Judge Lewis Kaplan's ruling Wednesday that, based on the May decision, the then-president's statements were "defamatory," "false" and "made with actual malice."
Trump lawyer Alina Habba responded to the ruling, saying: "We remain very confident that the (May) verdict will be overturned on appeal, which will render this decision moot."
The January jury trial is only one of several cases crowding Trump's calendar amid his presidential campaign, as the brash billionaire faces federal criminal charges for the mishandling of classified documents and "conspiracy to defraud the United States" in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
He also faces state charges for alleged hush money payments in New York and for pressuring state officials to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 presidential election victory in Georgia. (AFP)