Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz once dared his accusers to sue him in the ongoing controversy over his role in the alleged abuse of underaged girls in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. One did just that. Virginia Giuffre has claimed that she was forced to have sex as an underaged girl with friends and acquaintances of Epstein, including Dershowitz. Dershowitz called her a liar on multiple occasions, including statements he never met Giuffre and that she is a “serial perjurer,” a “serial liar,” and a “serial prostitute.” She sued him for defamation and U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York has rejected Dershowitz’s motion to dismiss and held that Dershowitz will have to face a trial on her claims. Former judge Paul Cassell has also leveled charges against Dershowitz as one of the abusers.
Dershowitz has emphatically denied the allegation and, while admitting that he accepted a massage, he insisted that he “kept my underwear on.”
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska also ruled that Giuffre will have to find new counsel because David Boies and his law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, are now witnesses in the case and thus barred from representing her.
Both decisions were clearly correct on the law in my view.
Dershowitz will now face a full trial that will focus on whether the allegations of his abuse of the underaged girl was clearly a lie. Truth is a defense to defamation, but that will require a full airing of the underlying allegations. It is the trial that Dershowitz had publicly called for but later sought to avoid through a motion to dismiss.
It will be hard to untangle the issue from the underlying allegation against Dershowitz. The jury will have to decide if Giuffre was clearly lying. He could try to focus on specific statements and the involvement of her lawyers. However, it would seem that the full scope of the available evidence related to Epstein would be material. One thing that will not be likely admitted is the lie detector test that Boies insisted Giuffre passed on the underlying allegations.
For their part, the lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP announced that they will appeal.