This month, a new accuser came forward in a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein’s estate, claiming the sex-trafficker raped and mutilated her in 2008 and said he’d feed her to alligators if she ever told anyone about these alleged crimes.
Filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe, the woman’s complaint says she was a 26-year-old real estate broker in Florida when Epstein and his alleged recruiter Ghislaine Maxwell repeatedly assaulted her in front of her young son. The suit also contains other explosive accusations: it says Epstein trafficked her to older men, including a local judge, and forced her into a botched vaginal surgery “in a wealthy person’s home.”
While little is known about Doe, the co-founder of the Miami-based law firm representing her has a history with the Epstein case, The Daily Beast has learned.
Kendall Coffey, a partner at the boutique firm Coffey Burlington—and a former U.S. attorney who stepped down from that post in 1996 over allegations that he bit a stripper at a nightclub—previously represented Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as he battled accusations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims Epstein sent her to Dershowitz and other powerful men to be sexually abused. (Dershowitz, who adamantly denies these accusations, is currently embroiled in a defamation suit with Giuffre.) A 2020 article in the Los Angeles Times characterized Coffey not only as Dershowitz’s attorney, but also as a “close friend.”
Coffey didn’t return messages seeking comment. Andrew Marks, one Coffey Burlington attorney representing Doe, said there is no connection or conflict of interest between Doe’s case and the work his firm did for Dershowitz several years ago. “Our current client’s claims do not involve Professor Dershowitz in any respect,” Marks said in email. “It would be wholly inappropriate and unfair to both our current client and Professor Dershowitz to suggest that there is any connection between the two of them.”
Robert Burlington, a partner and co-founder of the firm, added that it’s “not accurate” to suggest the firm has represented parties on both sides of Epstein litigation. “We represented a victim (Dershowitz) of defamation by an accuser and we now represent a victim of sexual battery against Epstein and Maxwell,” he said in an email.
A status conference in Doe’s case is scheduled for Thursday, court records show.
For his part, Dershowitz says he has no connection to Doe’s lawsuit, and said the 20-lawyer firm’s representation of an Epstein accuser isn’t a conflict of interest. “Coffey is a very ethical lawyer,” Dershowitz said. “He’s an extremely ethical lawyer who would never engage in a conflict of interest or anything close to it.”
Dershowitz then took aim at Miami Herald journalist Julie K. Brown, whose investigative series renewed public interest in the accusations against Epstein and who first reported on the new Jane Doe lawsuit this week.
Asked about the Doe complaint, Dershowitz said, “Never believe a word that Julie Brown writes without confirming it. She is not a journalist; she is a zealous one-sided advocate.”
It’s unclear how Doe came to the Coffey Burlington firm, or whether Coffey himself is involved in her case. According to her complaint, she’s also represented by New York personal injury firm Phillips & Paolicelli, LLP.
Coffey is no stranger to high-profile lawsuits; in 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign assigned him to represent Corey Lewandowski over allegations that the former Trump campaign manager forcibly grabbed a female reporter at a rally. (The case was later dropped by prosecutors.)
Doe’s claims of mutilation—and her assertion that Epstein promised to give her husband a job with the FBI and instructed her to hide burner phones and electronic devices for him while he was under investigation in 2008—go beyond what scores of Epstein victims have alleged. But many women have come forward to say that they were underage girls when the financier and his alleged accomplices lured them to his mansions and forced them to give him sexualized massages for money. The Miami Herald described the latest accusations against Epstein “sinister even by his standards” in their headline.
Coffey has been tangentially involved in the Epstein case and its cast of characters since at least 2009, when he served as counsel for the defunct Fort Lauderdale firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, where longtime victims’ lawyer Brad Edwards once worked.
By early 2015, Coffey was helping Dershowitz fight claims by Giuffre.
At the time, Giuffre was referred to as Jane Doe #3 and had asked to join a federal lawsuit against the government over the financier’s 2008 plea deal, which was secretly inked with his high-powered legal team, which included Dershowitz.
Giuffre claimed Epstein forced her into sex with Dershowitz, Britain’s Prince Andrew and other prominent men while she was still a minor. Her accusations of Epstein keeping her as his teenage “sex slave” from 1999 to 2002 made international news.
“In addition to being a participant in the abuse of Jane Doe #3 and other minors, Deshowitz was an eye-witness to the sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein’s co-conspirators,” Edwards, the victims’ lawyer, alleged in a motion requesting permission for Giuffre to join the suit.
Dershowitz quickly went on the defensive and enlisted Coffey to represent him. In a motion to intervene in the suit, Coffey called Giuffre’s claims “outrageously false” and attempted to strike her accusations from the record.
In a January 2015 appearance on the right-wing outlet Newsmax TV, where Coffey made increasingly frequent appearances as a “legal analyst,” the Miami attorney fiercely defended Dershowitz. “So many times we talk about the presumption of innocence in a court of law. Maybe there should be more of a presumption of innocence in the court of public opinion,” Coffey told host Steve Malzberg.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra did strike Giuffre’s allegations when he declined to add her and another anonymous victim, Jane Doe #4, as plaintiffs. Marra ruled, “The factual details regarding with whom and where the Jane Does engaged in sexual activities are immaterial and impertinent to this central claim…”
Still, Coffey was aware of the Epstein case well before Marra’s ruling.
In his book Relentless Pursuit: My Fight for the Victims of Jeffrey Epstein, Edwards recalled that Coffey served as counsel to Edwards’ then-firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, in 2009 when Edwards represented several of Epstein’s victims, and even provided advice about matters relating to the Epstein case.
When former Epstein butler Alfredo Rodriguez tried to sell Edwards the financier’s “little black book” of high society contacts, Edwards enlisted Coffey for help.
“I told Kendall the details and he agreed to turn around an opinion letter within a day or two,” Edwards recalled in his memoir. “It was long, but the letter basically informed me that I could meet with Alfredo to continue to persuade him to do the right thing, but that I could not pay him, which, of course, I already knew.”
Coffey continued to represent Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler as it spectacularly imploded in the second largest Ponzi scheme in American history.
Edwards detailed how he spent years battling Dershowitz, Epstein’s friend and lawyer, including in a defamation suit which settled in 2016.
Meanwhile, in 2010, Dershowitz penned the foreword to Coffey’s book Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion, in which the famous defense attorney lauded Coffey’s gift for litigating cases in the public eye.
Appointed a U.S. Attorney by then-President Bill Clinton, Coffey’s career as a prosecutor came to an unceremonious end in 1996 after a stripper at the Lipstik Adult Entertainment Club in Dade County accused him of biting her when she declined to kiss him on the lips during a lap dance. He went on to represent former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign during the infamous Florida recount battle of 2000.
In 2016, he rocketed to prominence again on the opposite side of the aisle, when he defended ex-President Trump’s former campaign manager Lewandowski against misdemeanor battery charges. The following year, the Associated Press reported Coffey was working for GOP trickster and eventual felon Roger Stone.
In late 2018, Coffey appeared on a local news program in Florida to discuss the controversy surrounding Trump’s then-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta—the former U.S. Attorney in Miami whose office brokered Epstein’s lenient plea deal. The non-prosecution agreement gave immunity to Epstein’s alleged accomplices and amounted to a mere slap on the wrist for molesting scores of underage girls.
In the segment, Coffey argued Acosta should not resign from his role in the Trump administration. The TV anchor mentioned during the roundtable talk that Dershowitz had served as part of Epstein’s “powerhouse” legal team about 11 years before, but at no point did Coffey disclose his relationship with the Harvard lawyer.
“He’s got an outstanding career in public service,” Coffey said of Acosta. “Even if it's a mistake, I don't think a single mistake should destroy the public service career of somebody who's done so many things that are positive for the community and the country.”
Acosta ultimately did not follow Coffey’s advice.
“Alex Acosta is indeed one of the good guys,” Coffey said, “even if the decision here was a bad one.”
Newsmax had Coffey back in July 2019 to appear alongside Dershowitz and conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly on a panel discussing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian intelligence.