MANHATTAN (CN) — Shadowed by his longtime association with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, ex-Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner has been dragged into bitter litigation about the scandal by attorney Alan Dershowitz.
No sooner did Wexner enter the fight than he contradicted the legal defense Dershowitz is asserting against a prominent Epstein accuser.
Often cited as a key source of Epstein’s fortune, Wexner installed Epstein as a trustee of his eponymous foundation in 1991 and granted him power of attorney when the latter was a little-known money manager.
The reason for Wexner’s trust in and professional association with Epstein has long been unclear, and executives for Victoria’s Secrets’ parent company L Brands reportedly raised alarms decades ago that Epstein abused his position by posing as a recruiter to exploit young models.
Three letters released on Monday could throw Wexner’s association with Epstein into the public glare. In one, Wexner’s legal team appears to undermine one of Dershowitz’s central claims against his prominent accuser Virginia Giuffre.
“This is a smoking gun, as far as the case against Dershowitz is concerned,” Giuffre’s powerful attorney David Boies said in a phone interview.
After Giuffre accused Dershowitz of sexually abusing her, the Harvard professor drew a defamation suit for calling her a “certified, complete, total liar.”
Dershowitz sought Wexner’s evidence for his countersuit in which he claims Giuffre has a history of extorting prominent men in the dead pedophile’s circle — among them, Wexner.
Depicting Giuffre’s lawsuit as an elaborate extortion scam, Dershowitz’s attorney Howard Cooper issued broad subpoenas to the billionaire Wexner and Wexner’s attorney John Zeiger, who swiftly contradicted the Harvard professor’s theory.
“Mr. Zeiger did have communications with Mr. Boies and can readily confirm that: no extortion demand was ever made, no settlement was entered into, and not a penny (or other consideration) was ever paid,” Marion Little, from the firm Zeiger, Tigges & Little, wrote in a 4-page letter.
“Just the opposite is true for Mr. Wexner, however,” the letter continues. “He had no involvement, and thus lacks any personal knowledge relating to, [Dershowitz]’s so-called ‘Extortion Claim.’”
For Giuffre and her lawyers, Wexner’s flat denial is powerful support of their lawsuit against Dershowitz and hobbles the professor’s countersuit.
“Dershowitz’s assertion that there was an extortion attempt was a smokescreen,” Boies said in the interview. “It was always a smokescreen. There was never any evidence of it at all. And now, we have confirmation from the source that was supposedly extorted, that there’s no extortion. This is devastating to Dershowitz.”
Known for representing the gay couples who overturned California’s Proposition 8 in 2010, Boies has found himself locked in one of the legal community’s most storied feuds since naming Dershowitz in a court filing half a decade ago.
Dershowitz went to war with the chairman of firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner for accusing him of sexually abusing his client, filing a bar complaint that has since been dismissed and as well as active litigation in Manhattan.
“I think the people who’ve been following this understood that what Dershowitz was doing was simply trying to distract attention from his own misconduct,” Boies commented. “But, having said that, I’ve got to be vindicated and feel vindicated, now that you have clear proof that the charges that Dershowitz was recklessly making simply were unfounded.”
In an email to Courthouse News, Dershowitz characterized Wexner’s denials as predictable and not credible.
“Extorted individuals almost always deny they were extorted because they don’t want the public to know they were accused of the wrongdoing that is the basis of the extortion,” Dershowitz wrote. “We have hard evidence that Boies accused Wexner of sexual improprieties with Guiffre including making her wear Victoria’s Secret lingerie while having sex. We have hard evidence that Boies met with Wexner’s lawyers, who called their demands a ‘shakedown.'”
In the past, Dershowitz sought to introduce a telephone recording with Boies that he claims supports that position.
“We will prove it at trial,” Dershowitz added. “Their denials are mere PR.”
Because the Dershowitz affair turned so personal and acrimonious, a federal judge ejected Boies from Giuffre’s defamation case to avoid any conflict of interest.
As the sex-trafficking saga unfolds in criminal court, civil litigation and the quest for compensation from the disgraced financier’s estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands, however, Boies continues to represent a dozen women who count themselves as Epstein survivors.
“All of these tracks, I think, are providing both compensation and vindication to the victims of Epstein, and Maxwell, and others’ assaults,” said Boies.
There may be more developments up ahead for Wexner, too, now that Dershowitz and Giuffre both have requested his deposition and evidence.
Giuffre contends that Dershowitz’s allegations “put Mr. Wexner at the heart of false and defamatory” smears against her.
“For this reason, [Giuffre] was likewise planning on seeking relevant documents and testimony from Mr. Wexner and Mr. Zeiger,” her attorney Charles Cooper wrote in a memo.
Wexner has been trying to distance himself from the wrangling, agreeing to produce information only under a strict protective order.
Even if Wexner had the requested information, his counsel claims that Dershowitz sought it for an improper purpose.
“[Dershowitz] has candidly conceded the sole purpose for Mr. Wexner’s deposition is to collaterally attack, with extrinsic evidence, Ms. Giuffre’s credibility,” Wexner’s legal team wrote, arguing that such evidence would be inadmissible at any trial.
“If such evidence were permitted here, the resolution of the parties’ claims would involve a series of mini-trials where the jury… would be forced to render de facto verdicts as to non-parties not before the court and who are not presenting their case,” their letter continues.
Arguing that any evidence should be subject to a protective order, Wexner’s counsel cited a tweet by The Miami Herald’s Julie Brown drawing their client further into the Epstein scandal.
“Alan Dershowitz’s attorney confirms that his client has access to Virginia Giuffre’s sealed depositions,” Brown tweeted on June 23, referring to a revelation from a hearing on that day. “Those depositions reveal that she was directed by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with former Israeli PM Ehud Barak & Victoria’s Secret’s Les Wexner.”
For Wexner’s counsel, this showed the need for an enforcement mechanism for contempt of court for the leak of information “given the public and toxic-fashion in which your client has sought to litigate his disputes with Ms. Giuffre.”
Wexner’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
Unsealed on Monday afternoon, their dueling legal briefs were dated late last month.
Setting a hearing over the matter for Aug. 17, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered attorneys for Dershowitz and Giuffre to apprise her of their discussions over the scope of their requests on Thursday.
Wexner said he severed ties with Epstein in 2007, the year of the disgraced financier’s guilty plea to soliciting prostitution of a minor.
Following Epstein’s sex-trafficking indictment more than a decade later, Wexner claimed that the dead pedophile swiped “vast sums” of money from his fortune. The clothing tycoon stepped down as a L Brands chairman earlier this year.