Judge says lawsuit against Harvard law professor can proceed

Larry Neumeister and Jim Mustian
Associated Press

New York – A woman who went public with claims she was a teenage victim of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring can move toward trial with her defamation lawsuit against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a judge ruled Wednesday as she disqualified a law firm from representing her.

U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska rejected Dershowitz’s effort to toss out the lawsuit, but she granted his request to disqualify Boies Schiller Flexner LLP from the case.

Dershowitz had sought to toss out the case on several grounds, including that the statute of limitations had passed.

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 6, 2019 file photo, Attorney Alan Dershowitz leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre has said Epstein trafficked her to several prominent men, including Dershowitz. She says she had sex with Dershowitz on several occasions– allegations Dershowitz vehemently denies.

Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation after he publicly denied ever even meeting Giuffre and called her a “serial perjurer,” a “serial liar,” and a “serial prostitute” in interviews with major media outlets.

Giuffre’s allegations drew new attention after Epstein was charged in New York this summer with sexually abusing dozens of girls. Epstein killed himself in August in his cell at a federal lockup adjacent to Manhattan federal court.

Preska wrote that disqualification of the law firm representing Giuffre was “clearly required” because members of the firm could be called as witnesses at a trial.

Dershowitz has said he secretly recorded David Boies, a prominent attorney with the firm, casting doubt on the veracity of Giuffre’s claims. Boies has said the call was recorded without his consent and that Dershowitz has mischaracterized their conversation.

“The advocate-witness rule prohibits an attorney from representing a party where the attorney will be called as a witness,” Preska wrote in her ruling.

Dershowitz on Wednesday called the ruling a “significant victory.”

“It clears us to put David Boies at the center of this conspiracy,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to prove that my accuser had repeatedly told people that she did not have sex with me until she met her lawyers. Her lawyers pressured her into saying she had sex with me, and they’re key witnesses.”

“I will continue to call (Giuffre) a liar and a perjurer,” he added.

In a statement, Sigrid McCawley of the Boies Schiller Flexner firm said the firm will promptly appeal Preska’s ruling. She called the judge’s decision to disqualify her firm “deeply disappointing.”

“The defamation case against Alan Dershowitz is going forward and he will have to face justice,” McCawley said.

Giuffre said in a statement that she was grateful that Preska denied Dershowitz’s “shameful attempt to dismiss my defamation case against him.”

“I will no longer be silenced. I will no longer be shamed,” she said. “I will see Alan Dershowitz in a court of law. But I am dismayed by the Court’s decision in this case to deprive me of my counsel.”