Justice for E. Jean Carroll is our victory too
E. Jean Carroll is already saying in an interview with the New York Times that she wants to put her millions won from Donald Trump to good use.
I have a suggestion. There were thousands of Asian Americans, including Filipinos who were victimized after Trump’s careless use of slurs against AAPI during the pandemic. Many of them had to resort to Go Fund Me pages to deal with the violence they encountered.
If Carroll wants to do some good, you don’t have to look far to find people hurt by Trump’s reckless words.
But first, at least for what Carroll went through in her multiple trials against Donald Trump, let’s cite her for being democracy’s hero.
In case you were wondering (and we all are considering the number of Trump’s legal entanglements), last week we got a real sign.
The system really works. Evidence was heard in court, and justice prevailed for Carroll.
Donald Trump can be held accountable.
It’s not easy to challenge the ex-president in court and win. But Carroll not only had one civil trial last year that found Trump liable of sexual assault; she convinced the jury at a second civil trial last week to order Trump to pay Carroll $83.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
This is a language that Donald Trump understands.
It’s numbers and dollar signs. But will it sink in? Trump continues to call it “absolutely ridiculous” and says he will appeal.
But the grounds for an appeal seem limited.
This was no “witch hunt” as Trump claims.
The only question the jury had to decide was the amount of money that would adequately punish Trump for his defamation of Carroll. It would also have to be a figure high enough to get him to stop his continued defamation of Carroll.
For most human beings, logic, common sense and empathy are all it takes to stop a serial defamer.
But everything is different with Trump, a man devoid of logic, common sense and empathy. He didn’t even have to be in court last week, which might have helped him to lower the potential damages. But Trump couldn’t help himself.
As late as last week, Trump continued saying negative things about Carroll that surely helped drive the overall damages to multiple times what was expected.
And then the jury came back and ordered Trump to pay Carroll $83.3 million.
That’s $11 million for the damage to Carroll’s reputation, plus $7.3 million in other compensatory damages. And then on top of that, $65 million in punitive damages where the sky was the limit.
How’d we get here?
The case started back in 2019 when Carroll accused Trump of an assault that took place in a New York City department store in the ‘90s. Trump denied it ever happened and said Carroll was “not my type.”
Carroll then sued for defamation, saying Trump’s statements ruined her reputation. But the case was held up in the courts because Trump was still president.
In 2023, the Justice Department allowed the case to move forward, and Trump was found liable for both sexual assault and for defamatory statements against Carroll.
The damages trial that ended last week saw Carroll take the stand with Trump in attendance.
That put Trump and Carroll face to face. Carroll might have been traumatized, but she would not be bullied.
She testified how Trump’s disparagements had ended the life she knew.
The experience with Trump found her barraged by threatening emails and insults. She found refuge in a small town out of the city and slept with a loaded gun next to her bed.
This is what Trump’s actions hath wrought to one person. Last week, the jury prevailed for Carroll.
Even if Trump appeals, this loss is a win for all Americans who want to see the ex-president held accountable for his actions.
Forget about Iowa and New Hampshire and all the other voters weighing in on Trump.
The nine-person New York jury that considered the evidence voted for the best way to compensate a person damaged by Trump.
And don’t we all?
That’s the significance of the $83.3 million moral victory for America.
Carroll, the honorary Asian American
It was hard for me not to cheer for Carroll at the end–not just as a writer, but as an Asian American Filipino.
As mentioned, since 2020, thousands of Asian Americans were victimized by the hate unleashed by then President Donald Trump, who used phrases like “Kung Flu” and “China Virus” to scapegoat the community for the pandemic.
With that, the transgressions toward Asian Americans (of all ethnicities, not just Chinese) numbered in the thousands from minor to major, and even led to some deaths.
Coincidence? Not when the former president models behavior for his cult of white supremacists.
In fact, it didn’t matter if you experienced a direct physical attack. Asian Americans during the pandemic were subject to a heightened sense of anxiety and a real fear of anti-Asian bullying.
And it all can be traced back to how the president gave the greenlight to his followers with his careless and reckless phrasing.
Trump was the xenophobe in chief.
Sure, he tried to walk back the language.
But of course, it was too late. And besides, it was just hot air.
There was also no financial consequence for all that his loose talk brought on AAPIs.
That’s why last week’s E. Jean Carroll win should be cheered by all of us in our bullied communities.
It won’t necessarily bring back our dead or undo the harm we’ve felt.
But through the verdict for Carroll, there is that sense of reassurance in justice.
The rule of law still works. It’s not an empty phrase: no man is above the law.
For a bully like Trump, words and actions have consequences—that’s gratifying to know with all his other cases yet to come.
And if Carroll ever gets a dime from Trump, I hope she thinks of the AAPI who’ve been victimized by the hate inspired by Trump’s words and actions.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for INQUIRER.net’s US Channel. See his micro-talk show on YouTube.com/@emilamok1