Girls and young women who say they were victimized by a sex trafficking ring led by the multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein described his properties as places where girls lounged topless by the pool and photos of half-naked women adorned the hallways and common areas.
But Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus law professor at Harvard University and a close friend of Epstein, insists he never saw any of that.
“Everybody missed it. My wife and I never saw young girls at that house,” Dershowitz said. “There was never a young girl in that house. There was never a picture of a young girl in that house. There were pictures of [former President Bill] Clinton, and other prominent people.”
On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan sentenced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to 20 years in prison for her role in recruiting and procuring underage girls for Epstein, who was found hanging in a Manhattan jail cell a month after his July 2019 arrest on sex trafficking charges. Maxwell was Epstein’s longtime companion and confidant.
Remarking on the details of Maxwell’s case, Nathan said: “I find that the defendant’s criminal activity was extensive.”
Some observers of the lurid case, which was detailed in a 2018 Miami Herald series, Perversion of Justice, suggest Maxwell’s imprisonment closes the book on the Epstein and Maxwell drama. Some victims, though, hoped that prosecutors would pursue other angles: specifically identify some of the rich and famous men to whom Epstein and Maxwell allegedly provided women and girls for sexual gratification.
Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, said she and others were trafficked to powerful men, and has specifically accused the pair of instructing her to have sex with their friend Dershowitz. The allegation is unproven, and Dershowitz has adamantly denied it. Giuffre has never wavered on her accusation. The two have accused each other of lying — and sued each other for slander.
Maxwell’s sentencing, Dershowitz said, “doesn’t close the book.”
“I want all the $20 million [in civil settlements] she’s gotten to be taken away from her and given to the real victims,” Dershowitz said. “Which I will do. I want her to go to prison for committing massive perjury. This case will never be over until Virginia Giuffre pays the price for her false accusations.”
Giuffre, who lives in Australia, was not present at Maxwell’s sentencing. But her attorney, Sigrid McCawley, read a statement into the record in which Giuffre called for Maxwell to die in prison for her crimes.
“Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us,” the statement said. “You could have put an end to the rapes, the molestations, the sickening manipulations that you arranged, witnessed and even took part in. You could’ve called the authorities and reported that you were a part of something awful.”
“Ghislaine, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell,” Giuffre added. “You deserve to be trapped in a cage forever, just like you trapped your victims.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Sigrid McCawley, one of Giuffre’s attorneys, released a short statement to the Herald accusing Dershowitz of falsely attacking his victim.
“For too long, Alan Dershowitz has engaged in revisionist history and has spun stories from pure fiction,” the statement read. “His relentless attacks on Virginia Giuffre are based on no evidence, but that has never been a barrier to entry for his rants. And on a day when a federal court repeatedly recognized Virginia as a credible victim at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing, he should be ashamed of himself.”
Dershowitz, famous for representing clients from Patty Hearst to Mike Tyson, declined to discuss Maxwell’s incarceration with a Herald reporter Tuesday. He was one of a handful of high-powered lawyers who helped craft an extraordinary plea deal that spared Epstein federal prosecution in 2008 despite an investigation by Palm Beach police that found three dozen girls were accusing him of sexual abuse. Many said they were recruited by Maxwell to provide massages for Epstein that turned into sexual assaults.
The Epstein legal team went on the attack, gathering dossiers on the underage accusers, many from troubled backgrounds, hoping to undermine their credibility.
In the end, Epstein served a short stint in the Palm Beach County Jail on state charges. The jail, which housed him in his own private wing, allowed Epstein to go free during the day to work out of an office in West Palm Beach.
Dershowitz helped engineer that deal, which has since been excoriated by judges and legal scholars. On Tuesday, he fretted that the public outcry over Epstein and Maxwell’s actions might lead to excessive or undeserved punishment for Maxwell.
“I just hope she receives justice,” he said, before the 20-year sentence was imposed. “I hope she’s treated fairly.”
“There is so much public pressure,” Dershowitz said. “She should have been let out on bail originally. That was a mistake.”
In recent years, Dershowitz has distanced himself from Maxwell and Epstein, with whom he had previously maintained a close relationship, staying at Epstein’s home with family members. A prolific author, Dershowitz told the Herald he would ask Epstein to preview his book manuscripts before they were published.
Though victims of the trafficking ring insisted Epstein never hid the trappings of his involvement with underage girls, Dershowitz said Epstein kept any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing hidden from public view.
“Nobody had a clue,” he said Tuesday. “It was not available to see. It was in a private part of his house, the separate part of his house.”
The charges against Epstein, Dershowitz said, were “shocking. Everybody was shocked. Everybody was totally and completely flabbergasted that he pulled the wool over our eyes, everybody’s eyes.”
It was no secret, Dershowitz said, that Epstein enjoyed the company of 26- and 27-year-old women, and some of his friends found Epstein’s fascination with such younger women distasteful. But, he added, “dating a 27-year-old who is in the Harvard Business School” isn’t the same thing as having sex with a teenager.
“We were all just absolutely shocked,” Dershowitz said, adding: “I terminated any personal relationship with him.”
“I just want the whole truth to come out,” Dershowitz said. “I want everything to be uncovered, everything to be unsealed. I want every photo to be shown, every video to be shown.”