For much of the last eight months, Hollywood has been rocked by sex abuse allegations: against X-Men director Bryan Singer and three others (the accuser withdrew his lawsuits, was scolded by a judge for lying in court and is now a defendant in a malicious prosecution case and a federal criminal fraud indictment); 7th Heaven actor Stephen Collins (he confirmed the allegations); and Bill Cosby (over 20 accusers have stepped forward and suits by two woman are pending).
Now, allegations have targeted top criminal defense lawyer and media personality Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School whose celebrity clients have included O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and socialite Claus von Bulow, whose case was the subject of Dershowitz’s book Reversal of Fortune, later a 1990 movie starring Jeremy Irons in an Oscar-winning turn.
The accusations — which Dershowitz has unequivocally denied — were made by “Jane Doe #3” in legal papers filed on December 30. That filing was a motion to join a six-year-old lawsuit against the federal government seeking to undo a non-prosecution agreement that Dershowitz had negotiated for a billionaire client, Jeffrey Epstein, who instead pled guilty to state underage sex charges and is now a registered sex offender. Those women argued that the federal non-prosecution agreement violated their rights as victims, and in the December filing Jane Doe #3 (and a fourth woman) argued that their rights too were violated.
But contained in the legal papers were explosive allegations that Epstein had forced Jane Doe #3 to have sex with Dershowitz and several others, including England’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. Buckingham Palace has denied the allegations against the prince.
“Epstein required Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with Dershowitz on numerous occasions while she was a minor, not only in Florida but also on private planes, in New York, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” says the document.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dershowitz denied the allegations and said he’d never even met Jane Doe #3, who has been identified in the press as Virginia Roberts. “I’m going to demolish this woman’s credibility and prove she’s a serial liar,” he said.
(Full disclosure: this reporter was a student in Dershowitz’s professional responsibility class about 25 years ago.)
In a statement provided by her lawyers, Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards, Roberts said, “I am looking forward to vindicating my rights as an innocent victim and pursuing all available recourse. It appears that I am now being unjustly victimized again. ... I'm not going to be bullied back into silence.”
Dershowitz is angry at Cassell and Edwards too, saying that they did not contact him before filing the motion and that if they had, he could have provided evidence that he had not met Roberts.
“I won’t rest until these lawyers admit they made it up,” said Dershowitz, who also vowed to have them disbarred. “It’s amazing to me that lawyers, including a former federal judge, could file something like this.” Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, served as a federal district judge for five years. Edwards is a Florida attorney who represents crime victims.
Cassell and Edwards responded, “We are not going to respond at this time to specific claims of indignation by anyone. ... We carefully investigate all of the allegations in our pleadings before presenting them.”
The upshot of all this? Dershowitz moved earlier this week to intervene in the lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that the allegations against him are not only untrue but also simply irrelevant to the issue of whether the non-prosecution agreement violated the rights of the various Jane Does. Accompanying Dershowitz’s motion is his sworn declaration, which he pointed out contrasts with Roberts’ filing, which did not include a sworn statement.
Dershowitz also said he would sue Cassell and Edwards for defamation, but they got there first, filing suit in Florida on Tuesday for what they termed “character assassination.”