A rich and politically connected money manager accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls reached a last-minute settlement Tuesday in a lawsuit, denying his accusers at least for now, the opportunity to testify against him. (Dec 4)
NEW YORK – Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz is escalating his attacks on the credibility of a woman who alleges he had sex with her when she was an underage girl trafficked for sexual abuse by millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Dershowitz, a former Epstein defense lawyer, on Wednesday accused Virginia Roberts Giuffre and her lawyer, former federal judge Paul Cassell, of committing perjury by making false claims against him in a lawsuit that could unseal evidence about Epstein’s actions.
The longtime Harvard Law School professor and frequent Fox News contributor leveled the allegations after a hearing in which a three-judge federal appeals court panel heard opposing arguments about the unsealing issue. The judges’ questions appeared to signal they could order at least some of the material to be made public.
“I challenge her to come before the press and say she had sex with me,” said Dershowitz, repeating his Twitter allegation that Giuffre made the claim for money while writing a memoir and was hurting the #MeToo movement with the alleged lying.
“I will be able to prove conclusively that she committed perjury, added Dershowitz. “She made up a story out of whole cloth.”
He similarly attacked Cassell, who during Wednesday’s hearing told the appeals panel that Epstein and a friend named Ghislaine Maxwell, sexually “trafficked (Giuffre) to Epstein’s friends, including Dershowitz.”
Cassell contended that sealed evidence in the case at the center of the appeals court arguments would corroborate Giuffre’s allegation against Dershowitz.
Ty Gee, an attorney for Maxwell, denied the allegation during the hearing.
Firing back during an impromptu news conference outside the lower Manhattan courtroom, Dershowitz said: “Judge Cassell is a liar. He lied to the court today. He abused his position as an officer of the court.”
His attack on Cassell came after settling a Florida lawsuit in which the former judge and another lawyer accused Dershowitz of defaming them by failing to do a thorough investigation of Giuffre’s allegations.
The legal allegations and counterclaims stem from the case against Epstein, a 66-year-old financier who has had friendships with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Epstein was accused in 2008 of luring more than 30 underage girls for sex acts at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion and other locations in the United States and overseas. He allegedly enlisted girls to lure more victims.
Under a plea deal when Dershowitz represented him, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida state court to two prostitution charges. He served a 13-month Florida jail sentence.
However, Epstein was granted work release that enabled him to serve much of his sentence at his Palm Beach office. The plea deal ended a federal investigation against him.
Nonetheless, Epstein was required to register as a sex offender.
The Miami Herald reported last year that Epstein’s alleged violations went well beyond the crimes to which he pleaded guilty. The newspaper identified 80 women who said Epstein sexually abused or molested them between 2001 and 2006 when they were under age 18.
Epstein was not present Wednesday for the legal arguments that could trigger the unsealing of witness interviews, legal rulings and other court records about Epstein’s activities.
Attorneys for Giuffre, Dershowitz, conservative blogger Michael Cernovich and for media organizations, including USA TODAY’s parent company, supported unsealing the records. They contended the material should be made public so the victims and the general public can examine the legal handling of the evidence against Epstein.
Gee, the attorney representing Maxwell, argued that much of the material should remain under seal. He said the records personal information about consensual adult sex that was properly kept secret.
The case was settled out of court in 2017. Pretrial depositions of witnesses and many other documents in the case were sealed by the court.
Sanford Bohrer, an attorney representing the Miami Herald, argued that the appeals court should order a document by document review of the sealed records in a process that would determine which should be kept secret, released in full, or released with redactions.
Citing the historic U.S. procedure that most court records are considered to be open, Bohrer said he had participated in many such reviews. “It goes pretty fast,” he told the judges.
Although the appeals judges did not issue an immediate ruling, their questioning of the lawyers generally focused on the mechanism of an unsealing process.
“This is not complicated. It does not require a complicated opinion. You can go item by item” and decide records to be unsealed,” said Judge José Cabranes. “Each document stands on its own.”
The arguments came days after a separate court decision in which U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta broke the law when he supervised a federal sex-crime investigation of Epstein.
Acosta was U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida at the time. Marra ruled that the law required Acosta and the federal prosecutors he oversaw to notify Epstein’s victims that the federal investigation of the financier would conclude when he pleaded guilty to the state charges.
The notification, required under the U.S. Crime Victim Rights Act, would have enabled the victims to challenge and potentially stop the plea deal approved by Acosta, Marra ruled.
The Justice Department has said the decisions by Acosta and the prosecutors he supervised “were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures.”
Marra gave attorneys on both sides in the case 15 days to confer, and then advise him about views on a potential remedy for the legal violation.
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