The prominent lawyer and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz is being sued for defamation in connection with the sexual assault allegations against well-connected multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, whose extraordinarily lenient plea deal for allegedly operating a sex trafficking ring of teenage girls made news in the fall, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
The suit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, charges that Dershowitz, as one of Epstein’s lawyers, was aware of and participated in Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls but still spread false information about Giuffre and other victims in order to silence them. The suit focuses on Dershowitz’s assertions that the alleged victims fabricated their accusations.
In the suit, Giuffre claims that she was coerced into having sex with Dershowitz and other wealthy and powerful men when she was a teenager.
Dershowitz has maintained his innocence and asserted that he has proof that Giuffre’s allegations are false. He has claimed he never met Giuffre, and he has said he will at some point give the Herald exculpatory evidence from some of his documents.
In a filing for that lawsuit, another woman also came forward to add her story to the growing list of sexual assault allegations against Epstein, the Herald reported.
Maria Farmer, now 49, says Epstein and his companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, sexually assaulted her in 1996, when she was a 26-year-old art student. She also alleges that Epstein molested her then–15-year-old sister repeatedly. Farmer claims she reported her assault to the FBI and New York police—which would make her the first person to report them to the FBI—but that the FBI took no action against Epstein.
Farmer, in the filing, added that she frequently saw underage girls come into his New York mansion and head upstairs. She was told they were auditioning for modeling work, according to the affidavit. She also alleges in the filing that she saw Dershowitz head upstairs while there were underage girls present.
Dershowitz has publicly criticized the Herald, which first published a series about Epstein and the role of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney in Miami, in brokering a plea deal for Epstein that gave him federal immunity, kept his victims in the dark, and protected any other potentially guilty parties. It was in the paper’s investigation, which identified 80 potential victims of Epstein’s abuse, that Giuffre’s accusations against Dershowitz were first published. Since then, another woman, Sarah Ransome, has said when she was 22 she was “lent out” by Epstein to have sex with Dershowitz.
“No sensible person looks forward to litigation,’’ Giuffre said in a statement. “And I know that standing up for myself and others will cause Mr. Dershowitz and Mr. Epstein to redouble their efforts to destroy me and my reputation. But I can no longer sit by and not respond. As my complaint shows, my abusers have sought to conceal their guilt behind a curtain of lies. My complaint calls for the accounting to which I, and their other victims, are entitled.”