Alan Dershowitz on the Defense (His Own)
By BARRY MEIERDEC. 12, 2015
Last month, demonstrators at Johns Hopkins University interrupted Alan M. Dershowitz as he was giving a fiery speech defending Israel. The disruption normally would not have fazed Mr. Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor who thrives on controversy and relishes taking on opponents in and out of the courtroom.
The protesters, however, were not challenging his Middle East politics. Instead, they held up a sign reading, “You Are Rape Culture.”
Mr. Dershowitz knew what it meant. A decade ago, he had defended a friend, a money manager named Jeffrey E. Epstein, after authorities in Palm Beach, Fla., found evidence indicating that he was paying underage girls to give him sexual massages. The lawyer led a scorched-earth attack on the girls and, with a team of high-priced lawyers, cut a plea deal for Mr. Epstein that the local police said was too lenient.
Over a five-decade career, Mr. Dershowitz has represented some of America’s most prominent criminal defendants, including O. J. Simpson, Leona Helmsley, Mike Tyson and Claus von Bulow. Now, he finds himself on the other side, in a legal battle to clear his own name. At 77, he is struggling to absorb a bitter lesson — that choosing the wrong client can exact its own cost.
Last December, as part of a filing in an ongoing lawsuit, a woman charged that Mr. Dershowitz had sex with her when she was underage. Mr. Dershowitz called the claim an “outrageous lie” and over the last year has faced fallout from the accusation.
“This is very serious,” Mr. Dershowitz said last month at his apartment in Manhattan. “It involves my life, my legacy, my career, my history, my reputation.”
As he has defended that legacy, there has been a lawsuit, a counterclaim and even an accusation of an extortion plot against the billionaire Leslie H. Wexner, the chairman of L Brands, the retail empire that includes Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel. It also has pitted Mr. Dershowitz against another of the nation’s most famous lawyers, David Boies, who represents his accuser.
The two lawyers are in an increasingly virulent war. In October, Mr. Dershowitz testified in a deposition that Mr. Boies had privately assured Mr. Dershowitz that he did not believe the claims of his client, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. “He said that he would not have taken this case if they had known she was going to accuse me,” Mr. Dershowitz said recently.
Mr. Boies responded that he never made such a statement. “The only explanation I have is that he is so emotional about this that he starts saying things without being careful,” Mr. Boies said in an interview. “He has been someone whose approach in litigation is to attack the other side.”
In recent weeks, efforts to resolve the thicket of legal actions have begun, but Mr. Dershowitz insists that any settlement must clear him of sexual wrongdoing. The woman accusing Mr. Dershowitz has not filed a complaint with the authorities or a lawsuit against him. Instead, her allegation first emerged in a lawsuit that challenged Mr. Epstein’s plea agreement.
Mr. Dershowitz long taught his students that everyone, even those charged with the most heinous crimes, deserves a defense. But he now says he hesitated when Mr. Epstein called him in 2006 to ask for help because he was being investigated in connection with sex crimes.
“I said, ‘Look, you know Jeffrey, we’re acquaintances, maybe that’s not such a great idea,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘No, no, no, I really need you to do this.’”
The case, Mr. Dershowitz realized, “was right in my wheelhouse.”
In December 2005, a few months before he got that phone call, Mr. Dershowitz, his wife, children and grandchildren were vacationing at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion.
The friendship between the men started in the mid-1990s on Martha’s Vineyard. Not long after they met, Mr. Epstein invited Mr. Dershowitz to a birthday party for Mr. Wexner. Instead of accepting presents, the retail magnate had a tradition of asking friends to bring the most interesting person they had met over the last year.
“He said, ‘I’d like to bring you,’” Mr. Dershowitz said.
By any measure, Mr. Dershowitz had led an interesting life. At 28, after clerking for a Supreme Court justice, Mr. Dershowitz became the youngest professor ever hired by Harvard Law School. It was outside the classroom, however, where his fame grew. He handled celebrated cases, appeared as television commentator and wrote many books, fiction and nonfiction. His account of the von Bulow case, “Reversal of Fortune,” was made into a film in 1990 in which the actor Ron Silver donned a bushy mustache and aviator glasses to play Mr. Dershowitz.
Along with enjoying celebrity, Mr. Dershowitz has also relished excoriating those he considers foes. He has taken on journalists, chided universities for coddling students and has been relentless in his defense of Israel, for example, accusing the writer Alice Walker of bigotry for refusing to allow an Israeli publisher to translate her novel “The Color Purple.”
Soon after meeting Mr. Epstein, Mr. Dershowitz became drawn into his rarefied world. Mr. Epstein was an enigmatic figure living in an Upper East Side mansion once owned by Mr. Wexner, who had reportedly been his mentor. A college dropout who once worked for Bear Stearns, Mr. Epstein said he handled investments for billionaires, though other than Mr. Wexner, he declined to identify them.
Along with prominent businessmen, Mr. Epstein’s friends included scientists, socialites and celebrities. He donated $30 million to finance scientific research at Harvard. President Bill Clinton and the actor Kevin Spacey flew aboard his private jet to Africa to discuss AIDS policy.
Mr. Dershowitz also traveled on Mr. Epstein’s plane and was invited to join his chats with Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister. The men grew so close that Mr. Dershowitz solicited Mr. Epstein’s feedback as he was writing books.
In the interview in his Manhattan apartment, Mr. Dershowitz said Mr. Epstein was often surrounded by young women, but none struck him as underage. “I never got involved in his social life,” he said.
However, in late 2005, around the time when Mr. Dershowitz and his family were vacationing at Mr. Epstein’s home, Palm Beach detectives were sifting through the trash outside. Acting on a tip, the authorities were investigating whether women working as assistants to Mr. Epstein were finding teenage girls to give him sexual massages. As the inquiry unfolded, detectives spoke with girls, some of whom were 15 or younger.
After taking the case, Mr. Dershowitz responded, as was his way, with hardball tactics. He gathered information from the girls’ postings on social media accounts, which he claimed showed they were drug users or had lied to Mr. Epstein about their age. He also helped put together a defense team that included Roy Black, the prominent trial lawyer, and Kenneth W. Starr, who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s involvement with Monica Lewinsky.
A local prosecutor, after meetings with Mr. Epstein’s defense team, recommended that he be charged only with a misdemeanor. The chief of the Palm Beach police department was so outraged by the proposal that he wrote a letter to the Justice Department asking it to get involved in the case.
Over time, authorities found evidence suggesting that Mr. Epstein had paid dozens of girls for sexual services. However, Mr. Dershowitz and other lawyers struck a deal in which Mr. Epstein agreed to plead guilty in a Florida court to one count of soliciting prostitution and another of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution. At the same time, federal officials agreed not to bring charges against Mr. Epstein or any of his potential co-conspirators.
A Florida judge sentenced Mr. Epstein to 18 months in jail, though he was allowed to spend days working on the outside. He was released in 2009 after serving 13 months — a shortened sentence for good behavior — and had to register as a sex offender.
For a criminal lawyer, the residue of a case can remain long after it ends.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Dershowitz received death threats after he helped secure Mr. Simpson’s acquittal on murder charges. And as a writer, he has imagined even worse plots. In one of his legal thrillers, “The Advocate’s Devil,” a lawyer discovers that a man for whom he had won an acquittal on rape charges is stalking his daughter.
But Mr. Epstein’s case has come back to haunt him in ways he never expected. “I have been criticized for the cases I’ve taken,” he said, “but no one has ever criticized my personal life.”
The events that pulled him back into Mr. Epstein’s orbit began unfolding in 2008. That year, two lawyers, Bradley J. Edwards and Paul G. Cassell, filed a lawsuit accusing the Justice Department of violating the rights of two women involved in Mr. Epstein’s case by not allowing them to challenge his plea deal.
Then, in 2011, a British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, published an article about Virginia Roberts Giuffre, another of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, who was then living in Australia. Ms. Giuffre, now a 32-year-old mother of three, told the newspaper that Mr. Epstein first started paying her for sexual services when she was 15. She also described traveling around the world on Mr. Epstein’s jet.
“Basically, I was training to be a prostitute for him and his friends who shared his interest in young girls,” Ms. Giuffre told the newspaper.
Soon afterward, the lawyers suing the Justice Department interviewed Ms. Giuffre and asked her if any of Mr. Epstein’s friends might have information about his exploitation of girls. When they mentioned Mr. Dershowitz, she replied, “Yes,” according to a transcript of the 2011 call.
But last December, Mr. Dershowitz was drawn into the Justice Department lawsuit in an entirely different way. In a motion filed that month, Ms. Giuffre claimed that she and Mr. Dershowitz had sex when she was a minor aboard Mr. Epstein’s plane and at the money manager’s homes in New York, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands. She also asserted that Mr. Epstein had “sexually trafficked” her to other powerful friends, including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. Buckingham Palace rejected the claims against the prince.
The judge later struck Ms. Giuffre’s motion from the court filing, but by then, the accusations were being widely reported and broadcast. Mr. Dershowitz’s phone was ringing with calls from reporters seeking comment. At every opportunity, he called Ms. Giuffre’s claims “outrageous falsehoods” and called the lawyers who had made the filing, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Cassell, “villains” who helped fabricate the claims against him.
Mr. Dershowitz said he would seek to have them disbarred, adding he had diary records and other information to show he was not at locations where Ms. Giuffre claimed they had met. “They’re prepared to lie, cheat and steal,” Mr. Dershowitz said in an interview on CNN in January.
The two lawyers, who declined to be interviewed for this article, filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Dershowitz, who responded with his own counterclaim.
Mr. Boies’s firm soon entered the fray. In late 2014, a lawyer at the firm, Boies, Schiller and Flexner, agreed to represent Ms. Giuffre in legal matters not directly related to the Justice Department lawsuit. When Mr. Dershowitz’s name surfaced in that lawsuit, another lawyer at the firm agreed to represent him before realizing that Ms. Giuffre was already a client. After the lawyer withdrew, Mr. Dershowitz expressed anger, saying that he had already told the firm his legal strategy before he was made aware of the conflict.
Mr. Boies called the claim frivolous. “This idea of going to the press and asserting there is a conflict when you are not willing to make that claim in court is irresponsible,” said the lawyer, who is perhaps best known for representing the Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore against George W. Bush in his challenge to the 2000 election results.
That incident, however, was only the start of an escalating battle in which each man has accused the other of twisting words and spewing falsehoods. In October, during a deposition in the defamation case against him, Mr. Dershowitz testified that he had received a confidential phone call from a female friend of Ms. Giuffre, who provided him with troubling information.
According to Mr. Dershowitz’s testimony, the woman said that Ms. Giuffre had told her that she had been pressured to level sexual charges at Mr. Dershowitz. She also described a plan to accuse Mr. Wexner of having sex with Ms. Giuffre when she was underage.
“Virginia and her lawyers hoped to get $1 billion, B-I-L-L-I-O-N, $1 billion or half of his net worth,” Mr. Dershowitz testified he was told, calling the plan an “extortion” attempt.
A lawyer for Mr. Wexner, John W. Zeiger, did not respond to telephone calls. But a person briefed on the matter but who was not authorized to speak publicly about it said that Mr. Wexner had never met Ms. Giuffre and no extortion attempt was made.
Mr. Dershowitz says he wants nothing more than for Ms. Giuffre to publicly retract her claims. He insists that Mr. Boies privately told him that he believed Mr. Dershowitz was innocent and that Ms. Giuffre, while believing the allegations, was mistaken or confused.
Mr. Boies says Mr. Dershowitz’s claims are ludicrous. “I never said to him that I concluded that my clients’ assertions were incorrect,” he said. “I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything like that.”
On Friday, Mr. Dershowitz filed an affidavit in a Florida state court, containing notes of his conversations with Mr. Boies that he says support his account. In it, he described Mr. Boies as telling him that if his client refused to withdraw her claim, “he could not ethically continue to represent her.”
Hours later, Mr. Boies’s firm asked the Florida judge to seal Mr. Dershowitz’s affidavit, and in a related filing, Mr. Boies described some of Mr. Dershowitz’s assertions as “misleading” or “flatly untrue.”
In this intensifying game of legal chicken, it is not clear who will flinch first. Ms. Giuffre seems unwilling to yield and used a recent court filing to fire back at Mr. Dershowitz.
“He is lying by denying that he had sex with me,” said Ms. Giuffre, who declined to be interviewed for this article.
Mr. Dershowitz says he is no longer friendly with Mr. Epstein, who lives once again in his lavish Upper East side mansion. Still, like it or not, the lawyer remains tethered to him. Having defended Mr. Epstein, he said that he could not express his feelings about him.
Several well-known criminal defense lawyers said that personal attacks were an occupational hazard. “Alan has never shied away from a fight in his life,” said Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer in Washington whose clients have included the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of corruption in 2006. “He has been that kind of lightning rod.”
For a man who has never lacked for self-confidence, Mr. Dershowitz now finds himself saddled with regret. Two clients, he said, have backed away from him because of his accuser’s claims, and he worries whether universities like Johns Hopkins will invite him to give speeches or present him with awards.
He now says he thinks that he should have said no when Mr. Epstein called.
“I think I do regret having taken the case in light of everything that has happened since,” he said. “If I could give back the money I made in this case and have this episode of my life erased, I’d do it.”
British socialite may have to reveal Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking at trial
BY Barbara Ross
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 7:47 PM
A British socialite might have to disclose far more than she hoped about the sexual escapades of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein as the result of a ruling Thursday by a Manhattan federal judge.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet ordered Ghislaine Maxwell, 54, to disclose documents and conversations she had between 1999 and 2016 about Epstein’s alleged trafficking in women to provide sex to a vast array of friends, business and political associates.
However, Sweet said, Maxwell only has to give up that information if Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman suing Maxwell for defamation, is very specific in her pretrial discovery questions and identifies the people communicating with Maxwell.
Giuffre is suing Maxwell for defamation because Maxwell claims Giuffre lied when she said Maxwell procured her and other minors to have sex with Epstein and his buddies, including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Giuffre says she was one of many underage girls brought to Epstein's home in Florida and provided to Andrew, among others. The Duke of York and Epstein deny it.
JEFFREY EPSTEIN ACCUSERS SUE FEDS OVER HIDDEN NON-PROSECUTION 'CONSPIRACY'
In Manhattan federal court Thursday, Maxwell's lawyers Jeffrey Pagliuca and Laura Menninger charged that Giuffre's lawyers were "overly broad" in their demands for information.
"What the heck does communication with the Duke in 2013 have to do with this case? Nothing!" Pagliuca declared.
Billionaire and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York
However, Giuffre's lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, argued that Epstein's long standing practice of luring girls — some minors — with cash to have sex with him and his friends was relevant to her client's charges.
Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida in 2006 to soliciting underage girls — some as young as 14 — for sex and served 13 of an 18-month sentence. He is now a registered sex offender with homes in Palm Beach, the Upper East Side and Paris.
The judge narrowed Giuffre's discovery demands by requiring her to name names but he rejected Pagliuca's request to limit the time frame to 1999 to 2002, which is the period when Giuffre was involved with Epstein, allegedly as his “sex slave.”
The judge also refused to limit her to questions about minors.
“If there was trafficking in other than minors, that could be relevant," he said.
Maxwell is due to be deposed on March 25, but the judge said he would hear any last minute objections in the ongoing discovery battles next Thursday and there was a possibility that Maxwell's deposition could be delayed.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/cou ... -1.2568619
Prominent U.S. lawyer Alan Dershowitz and two victims’ rights attorneys on Friday withdrew claims from a Florida court that they defamed each other during a legal fight about a woman who said she was trafficked for sex as an underage girl.
“The parties believe it is time to take advantage of the new information that has come to light on both sides during the litigation and put these matters behind them,” the three lawyers said in a joint statement on Friday.
The defamation lawsuits stemmed from claims that the woman, Virginia Giuffre, made in another court in December 2014 that she was forced as a girl to have sex with Dershowitz, the UK’s Prince Andrew, and other men. Dershowitz and Prince Andrew denied the allegations, and the allegations were later stricken from court records. ...
As part of a settlement on Friday, Dershowitz withdrew his accusation that they acted unethically, and Edwards and Cassell said it was a mistake to have filed the accusations against Dershowitz. They added in a separate court filing on Friday that their mistake was tactical and that Giuffre stood by the accusations.
A new lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court alleges that Donald Trump repeatedly raped a 13-year-old girl a little over 20 years ago. According to the now-adult woman’s filing, the sexual assaults took place at parties held by Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire former hedge funder who pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges involving soliciting sex from underage girls as young as 14.
In the filing, the woman states the assaults took place in 1994. She said Epstein lured her to his Upper East Side home—then dubbed Wexner Mansion—with promises of a career in modeling and large sums of money. Once there, Jane Doe says she was violently raped by Trump, according to Death and Taxes:
In the court filing, “Defendant Trump” allegedly “initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”
In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”
Trump has long admitted to being friendly with Epstein, telling New York Magazine several years ago, “I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
In 2009, Mark Epstein, Jeffrey’s brother, testified under oath that Trump flew at least once on Epstein’s private plane, the so-called “Lolita Express,” according to Vice. (According to flight logs, so did Bill Clinton.) The site also notes that Epstein’s private phone book, of which the FBI has a copy, includes phone numbers and information for Donald Trump, along with Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Senator Edward Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, and David Koch.
A woman’s $100 million lawsuit in California federal court accusing Donald Trump of raping her three times when she was a teenager has been dismissed by a federal judge.
Katie Johnson claimed in court documents that the New York billionaire forced her to “engage in various perverted and depraved sex acts by threatening physical harm to (Johnson) and her family.”
The case, filed in April, was thrown out by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Stevenson in May, according to court documents. Stevenson ruled that Johnson “failed to state a civil rights claim” in her lawsuit.
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