Alan Dershowitz is dragging Victoria’s Secret mogul Les Wexner into his legal battle with Virginia Roberts Giuffre—a victim of Jeffrey Epstein who claims she was coerced into sex with Dershowitz and is suing him for defamation. (He denies the accusation.)
In Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, counsel for Giuffre and Dershowitz argued over whether the defamation suit should be dismissed—despite Dershowitz’s previous claims to the press that he welcomed such litigation to prove his innocence—and whether Giuffre’s lawyers should be disqualified from the case.
Dershowitz argues Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies and his firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, should be booted from the case because the defense will call them as witnesses. Dershowitz claims a member of Boies’ firm consulted with Dershowitz and nearly represented him in 2015 over Giuffre’s allegations. He also claims to have a secret phone recording where Boies allegedly questions his own client’s credibility.
Boies’ firm has denied Dershowitz’s interpretation of events, saying that Boies has no doubts Giuffre is telling the truth, and that he was speaking hypothetically with Dershowitz, who, he says, is taking the recording out of context.
Imran Ansari, a lawyer for Dershowitz, told Judge Loretta Preska that he plans to file a transcript of the recording under seal. Ansari also referred to a separate conversation relating to Wexner, prompting Judge Preska to say Wexner was “irrelevant” to the arguments.
But Howard Cooper, another lawyer for Dershowitz, replied that Giuffre’s complaint accuses Dershowitz of making defamatory statements relating to Wexner, and that one of Dershowitz’s defenses in court will be proving his claims are true. (“Roberts made up the accusations out of whole cloth in order to obtain millions of dollars from Leslie Wexner,” Dershowitz declared in December 2018, according to Giuffre’s lawsuit.)
Wexner’s name also came up while Dershowitz’s team tried arguing that he couldn’t be sued for repeating in 2018 and 2019 “virtually the same statements” he made in 2015.
Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Giuffre, disagreed and told the court that Dershowitz hasn’t merely been recycling his 2015 statements. Instead, she said he’s elaborated on his old claims and referred to other individuals including Wexner. “These statements go well beyond his statements in 2015,” she said.
McCawley argued that the law doesn’t allow someone to become a “serial defamer” and avoid legal accountability after they’ve said one bad thing about someone in the past. Every new publication of defamatory statements triggers a new statute of limitations, she said.
McCawley argued Giuffre has an actual malice claim against Dershowitz because he “went to the media and said he wanted to be sued” by Giuffre. Dershowitz “knew he had abused my client, then went before the public and called her a liar,” she said.
But Cooper said Dershowitz has continued to call Giuffre a “liar” in order to defend his reputation—referring to the constant stream of news relating to Dershowitz’s friend and former client, wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. “What would someone in Professor Dershowitz’s position do?” Cooper asked Judge Preska.
After the proceeding, Dershowitz and his team addressed reporters outside the courthouse, where the Harvard academic claimed he was “defending not only my right but the rights of everyone who’s ever been falsely accused.”
Asked for proof that Giuffre’s claims were false, Dershowitz said, “I am standing here in front of you the media and I am stating unequivocally without the protection of defamation privilege, subject to being sued for defamation, I am saying to you I never met Virginia Giuffre. I never had sex with her. And the reason I’m saying it is because it’s true. She on the other had… has never and will never stand in front of any media and repeat her lie saying that she did have sex with me.”
“We don’t believe you. We don’t believe you. Go back to your office!” a woman in the crowd yelled over Dershowitz, but he was undeterred.
When a reporter asked about the Victoria’s Secret mogul, Epstein’s only known client, Dershowitz replied, “Les Wexner will be a major witness.”
“And we will prove that [Giuffre’s attorneys] Sigrid McCawley and David Boies went to Les Wexner’s lawyers and said that Les Wexner had sex with Virginia Giuffre between five and 10 times and that Les Wexner insisted that she wear Victoria’s Secret-type lingerie. And I can’t imagine any reason for having that conversation unless it was part of an effort to obtain money. So we will call Les Wexner as a witness, we will call Sigrid McCawley as a witness, we will call David Boies, we will call Les Wexner’s lawyer.
“And our goal is simply to have the entire whole truth come out.”
A spokesman for Wexner declined to comment.
Those close to Wexner, however, appear to have denied Dershowitz's claims since 2015, when one insider told the New York Times that Wexner had never met Giuffre and that no extortion attempt was made.
“I believe, based on the information that we have accumulated over 11 years, that the statements that he [Wexner] gave yesterday in the press that he did not know about the sexual proclivities of Mr. Epstein, are very highly likely to be true,” Edwards said in July.
“We have not seen where he is in the company of Jeffrey Epstein at the time when he was engaging in these things,” Edwards added. “In fact, it’s very seldom that many of the victims actually even met him or saw him. I do know that there’s a lot of business ties to him, but other than receiving information about their business connection, I don’t have any information to believe otherwise.”
In affidavits filed as exhibits in the defamation suit, McCawley and Boies denied Dershowitz’s extortion claims.
“Mr. Dershowitz asserts that I participated in an attempt and a conspiracy to extort Leslie Wexner,” McCawley stated. “Again, Dershowitz cites no evidence to support his assertions, and they are false.”
For his part, Boies stated that “no settlement demand was ever made of, or even discussed with, Mr. Wexner or his counsel.”
Dershowitz also claimed on Tuesday that Giuffre and her lawyers have “done a terrible disservice” to the #MeToo movement.
When Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown asked Dershowitz why he goaded Giuffre to sue him and is now trying to dismiss her case, Cooper jumped in, “There’s a competing balance between inviting a lawsuit and putting forth First Amendment defenses.”
“You cannot be faced with this situation and let the First Amendment die on the vine,” Cooper added.
Brown countered that Dershowitz could vindicate himself by going through with the trial as he said he wanted to do.
“He could vindicate himself by talking as he is now,” Cooper replied. “Denying the allegations and making clear that he’s telling the truth.”
Dershowitz intoned a now-familiar line, “I predict that if this case goes to trial, perjury will be committed in this courtroom. Because I will swear unequivocally I never met this woman, and if she says that she ever met me or had sex with me, she will be committing perury.”
Dershowitz said he invited the FBI to attend the trial, which he now wants dismissed, to determine who is committing perjury.
“It’s not me,” he declared.