Miami Herald Journalist Julie Brown Sued by Epstein Victims

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Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown published her book on the Jeffrey Epstein case last year, she dedicated it to Courtney Wild and other victims of the wealthy sex-trafficker.

Now Wild and fellow accuser Haley Robson are suing the star journalist, whose 2018 Herald series about Epstein’s shady plea deal for abusing scores of girls led to his indictment. The duo allege she defamed them in her book.

In a stunning lawsuit, Wild and Robson say Brown published “false and defamatory statements” in her 2021 book Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story, despite allegedly knowing the information wasn’t correct, and therefore “re-victimized” them.

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“In particular, Brown falsely stated that Ms. Wild was raped by Epstein and then had sex with Epstein multiple times after the rape. Neither is true,” the complaint, filed in Miami-Dade County, states. “More egregiously, when Robson refused to sit for an interview for the book, Brown threatened her, saying her refusal would be the ‘biggest mistake of your life.’”

The civil suit alleges defamation, defamation per se, and defamation by implication, and seeks “an order requiring Julie Brown to issue a public statement of apology” to the women, and compensatory and punitive damages.

The lawsuit claims “Brown has sought to take credit away from the victims,” including Wild, who for years battled the Department of Justice over Epstein’s controversial 2008 nonprosecution agreement, and fought for his arrest and a victims’ compensation program.

“Knowing Ms. Wild had spearheaded each of these major achievements, and not Ms. Brown as she claimed in her book, Ms. Brown sought to debase and defame Ms. Wild by writing that Ms. Wild ‘told the FBI the times that she had sex with him when she was underage,’ that she could not ‘remember the exact time he raped me,’ and that, at a certain point thereafter, she ‘didn’t have to do the sex anymore,’” the complaint states. “In fact, Ms. Wild never had sexual intercourse with Epstein and was never raped by Epstein.”

Meanwhile, the suit accuses Brown of retaliating against Robson because she refused to be interviewed for the book by depicting her as a “mini-Ghislaine Maxwell.” (Maxwell, a former girlfriend and longtime confidant of Epstein, was recently convicted of grooming and abusing minor girls for him in the 1990s and early 2000s.)

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“Fulfilling her threat, Brown then portrayed Robson not as the teenage victim she was, no different than dozens of other victims, but rather as a mini-Ghislaine Maxwell and a member of Epstein’s inner circle, despite knowing that to be a false narrative,” the filing continues. “Brown’s libelous attacks on these two victims will have lasting effects as both have children and family members who will suffer regular attacks by those in the community who read or hear of these defamatory statements.”

Jeffrey Gutchess, the attorney representing Robson and Wild, said the false reporting in Brown’s book is “the latest insult to injury” for victims who’ve been traumatized by Epstein, his enablers and the government for failing to properly charge him back in the 2000s. Brown, Gutchess added, “took the victims’ stories and commercialized them.”

“When I met Haley and Courtney and heard the story, I was shocked by how much harm and damage this book caused to them emotionally,” Gutchess told The Daily Beast.

“Neither of them is money hungry or sees this as some sort of opportunity to get rich or anything like that,” Gutchess said. “They were just horrified by the injury they suffered. They need to take a strand and push back against that.”

Referring to the alleged threats against Robson, the lawyer told us: “When that happened, Haley was shocked. It’s odd behavior. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why an author would threaten a victim like that if she didn’t cooperate.”

According to the lawsuit, Brown wanted to “break new ground” in her book, in part by reporting on “Ms. Robson’s true role as a victim.”

The press has long reported Robson was a recruiter based on documents from the Palm Beach Police Department’s 2005 investigation into Epstein. But Robson, who says she was 16 when she first gave Epstein a massage and began finding victims for him, “had been wrongfully vilified by the media for years,” her complaint says.

Indeed, in Filthy Rich, the Netflix documentary about Epstein’s sex crimes, Robson came forward and said it was unfair for cops to treat her as the financier’s “righthand man.” On camera, Robson said, “I feel like I’ve been putting the blame on myself for so long, but I shouldn’t feel guilty about it because I was 16 and he’s the adult.”

The lawsuit says Brown asked to interview Robson “under the guise of helping [her] restore her reputation and tell her true story as one of Epstein’s victims.” But when Robson opted not to participate, Brown allegedly warned Robson she was “making the biggest mistake of your life.”

“With the publication of Perversion of Justice, Ms. Brown carried out her threat by characterizing Ms. Robson not as a victim but rather as an eager [participant] and co-conspirator in Epstein’s crimes,” the complaint states.

A review of Brown’s book shows she described how Robson brought a girl to Epstein’s Palm Beach lair and received a $200 finder’s fee. Brown writes that Robson was “giddy with excitement” when she told the girl, “If we do this every Saturday, we will be rich.”

The complaint says Brown knew the statements about Wild and Robson “were false and defamatory” because of her prior interviews with them. Brown interviewed Wild on-the-record and Robson off-the-record, the filing states.

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