Trump sues ABC for defamation over report citing rape case

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 8:02 AM

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News and George Stephanopoulos over comments the news anchor made on air involving the rape case brought against the former U.S. president by writer E. Jean Carroll.

Trump, a Republican, is already embroiled in multiple unrelated legal battles as he seeks to avoid going to trial on four criminal indictments before the Nov. 5 U.S. election, when he will try to unseat Democratic President Joe Biden.

The new lawsuit said the anchor of ABC’s Sunday news program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” “falsely stated on several occasions that Plaintiff had been found liable by multiple juries for the rape of Ms. E. Jean Carroll.”

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Southern Florida, accuses Stephanopoulos of making the statements with malice and a disregard for the truth. It said the statements were distributed widely to third parties and repeated.

ABC News said it had no comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit cites a March 10 interview with U.S. Representative Nancy Mace, a Republican who has spoken publicly about being raped as a teenager. Stephanopoulos said Trump was found liable for rape and asked her how she could endorse the candidate.

A New York jury in May said Trump must pay $5 million in damages for sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s and then defaming her by branding her a liar. In a subsequent defamation lawsuit brought by Carroll, a federal jury in Manhattan on Jan. 26 ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to Carroll. Trump has appealed.

Since launching his first presidential campaign in 2015, Trump has often attacked media outlets whose coverage he dislikes. He has filed multiple similar unsuccessful defamation lawsuits, including a $475 million case against CNN that was thrown out by a federal judge in July.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)