MANHATTAN (CN) – Alan Dershowitz’s new book “Guilt by Association,” a jeremiad against the #MeToo movement, may become fodder for defamation charges against the Harvard law professor by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s prominent accusers.
Virginia Giuffre’s attorney Charles Cooper asked a judge for permission to file the new charges Monday during a hearing to chart the course of discovery in New York litigation.
A prominent lawyer who represented Epstein before the sex offender’s prison cell death in August, Dershowitz has seen his reputation in the legal community increasingly stained as multiple accusers have tied him to his client’s sex-trafficking ring.
Giuffre is also considering allegations under the Child Victims Act, a New York law that took effect in August extending the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, her lawyer noted Monday. Dershowitz’s attorney Howard Cooper bristled at the assertion.
"I think there is irrefutable proof that she wasn’t a child and doesn’t qualify," Howard Cooper said of Guiffre’s alleged contact with Dershowitz.
Giuffre’s legal team seeks evidence of Dershowitz’s other sexual partners, but U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska appeared skeptical about the maneuver.
“Whether Mr. Dershowitz had relations with other women in Epstein's house, do we care?” Preska asked at Monday’s hearing.
Answering in the affirmative, Charles Cooper argued that Dershowitz made the issue relevant.
“Mr. Dershowitz's denial is quite sweeping,” Charles Cooper told the judge, quoting the professor as saying he never had sex with anyone other than his wife.
Howard Cooper, from the Boston-based firm Todd & Weld, replied that investigating that statement would exceed the bounds of acceptable discovery.
“Or propriety,” Preska interjected.
Giuffre’s attorney assured the judge that the discovery that they seek is not quite so expansive. A founding member of his Washington-based firm Cooper & Kirk, Charles Cooper said he does not intend to probe whether Dershowitz’s denials of extramarital affairs generally so much as whether he had sex with anyone in connection with Epstein’s operation.
Both Giuffre and Sarah Ransome, a British accuser, have alleged that Dershowitz had sex with them as part of the sex-trafficking operation Epstein was indicted over before his death.
Cooper noted that a third accuser, Epstein’s former employee Maria Farmer, filed an affidavit supporting Giuffre’s account by claiming to have witnessed Dershowitz in the convicted pedophile’s mansion with underaged girls.
“On a number of occasions, I witnessed Dershowitz at the NY mansion going upstairs at the same time there were young girls under the age of 18 who were present upstairs in the house,” Farmer said in the April document filed with Giuffre’s lawsuit.
Attorneys for both Giuffre and Dershowitz appeared interested in looking into a recent New York Times exposé reporting that a man operating under the pseudonym Patrick Kessler peddled what he claimed to be surveillance footage from Epstein’s apartment to attorneys seeking lucrative settlements.
One of the men Kessler met with was famed litigator David Boies, whom Dershowitz accused of conspiring to blackmail and extort him. Judge Preska recently disqualified Boies from representing Giuffre to avoid a possible conflict of interest stemming from those allegations, and Dershowitz’s legal team made clear that they intend to subpoena the firm under the crime-fraud exception.
The Times investigation is likely to become a pivot point for future discovery in the case.
Boies told the Times that he came to believe that Kessler was likely a con man, and Dershowitz’s attorneys view him as evidence of a plot to extort high-profile targets by associating them with Epstein.
Giuffre’s attorneys want a closer look, however, at some of the videos Kessler had been peddling. One reportedly showed a man with glasses, who resembled Dershowitz, having sex with a woman.
Shown the footage by the Times, Dershowitz’s wife Carolyn Cohen responded: “You don’t keep your glasses on when you’re doing that.”
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