Judge denies Alan Dershowitz's motion to dismiss Epstein-related defamation suit

Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre filed a defamation case against Dershowitz in April, saying he falsely claimed she fabricated her accusations.
Image: Alan Dershowitz and his legal team, including Howard Cooper, wife Carolyn Cohen and Arthur Aidala leave the Manhattan Federal Court in New York
Alan Dershowitz and his legal team leave the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on Sept. 24, 2019.Jefferson Siegel / Reuters

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By Tom Winter, Sarah Fitzpatrick and Adiel Kaplan

Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre can move forward with her defamation lawsuit against lawyer Alan Dershowitz, but she's going to need a new attorney, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and a former lawyer for Epstein, has been embroiled for years in the child sexual abuse scandal surrounding the wealthy financier who died by suicide in August.

Giuffre, one of Epstein's earliest and most prominent accusers, filed the defamation suit against Dershowitz in April.

The suit alleges that she was a victim of sex trafficking and abuse by Epstein from 2000 to 2002, beginning when she was 16 years old. Guiffre claims Dershowitz "was also a participant in sex trafficking, including as one of the men to whom Epstein lent out Plaintiff for sex," and that Dershowitz falsely claimed she had fabricated the accusations.

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Dershowitz has adamantly denied the allegations and filed motions to dismiss the case and to disqualify Giuffre's lawyers from representing her. He claims that she conspired with her lawyers at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP to extort him.

But Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled Wednesday that the case would continue, stating that "Giuffre has pled sufficient facts" to defeat Dershowitz's motion to dismiss. Preska ruled in Dershowitz's favor on a second motion he filed — that Giuffre could no longer be represented by lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP due to the likelihood that lawyers from the firm will be called as witnesses in the case.

The case hinges in part on Giuffre's claim that Dershowitz defamed her by saying she and lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner attempted to extort him.

“We are pleased that the defamation case against Alan Dershowitz is going forward and that he will face the call for justice," Sigrid McCawley, one of Giuffre's lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner, said. "We will appeal the disqualification decision, which is a result of Mr. Dershowitz’s manipulation of the system to classify us as witnesses so our client will be deprived of trusted, longtime counsel."

Dershowitz released a statement saying he was pleased that the firm led by prominent attorney David Boies has been "disqualified." He said he plans to call Boies "as a major witness to prove — in Boies' own recorded words — that his client is 'wrong ... simply wrong' in accusing me."

According to the judge's ruling, Dershowitz also provided the court transcripts of a conversation between himself and Boies.

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The judge cited the transcript in her ruling saying that if Giuffre’s current attorneys weren’t disqualified, they would be in the unusual position of having to question their own colleagues, including Boies, about conflicting evidence and testimony in the case.

The case is now headed to trial, though Giuffre will need new representation. Dershowitz told the court his legal team plans to call multiple lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner as witnesses to prove the extortion happened. Giuffre's attorneys at the firm maintain that the conversation transcript was taken out of context and that nothing improper occurred.

Giuffre, who lives in Australia, could not immediately be reached for comment.