Bench Memos

Alan Dershowitz’s Curious Denials

[Update, around 5:30 p.m.: In the initial version of this post, I quoted from, and linked to, Alan Dershowitz’s draft declaration. I now see that he filed a declaration in court on Monday. I have made minor, and I think immaterial, changes to the post below to reflect some differences of wording in the filed declaration.]

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has vehemently denied allegations that he had sexual relations with an under-aged girl who says she had been made a “sex slave” by businessman Jeffrey Epstein. I hope very much that Dershowitz is telling the truth, but there is something about his denials that I find curious.

With respect to Dershowitz, the court motion* filed by “Jane Doe #3” alleges:

One such powerful individual that Epstein forced then-minor Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with was former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a close friend of Epstein’s and well-known criminal defense attorney. 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. In addition to being a participant in the abuse of Jane Doe #3 and other minors, Deshowitz was an eye-witness to the sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein’s co-conspirators. Dershowitz would later play a significant role in negotiating the NPA on Epstein’s behalf. Indeed, Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement that provided immunity from federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida not only to Epstein, but also to “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.” NPA at 5. Thus, Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement with a provision that provided protection for himself against criminal prosecution in Florida for sexually abusing Jane Doe #3. Because this broad immunity would have been controversial if disclosed, Dershowitz (along with other members of Epstein’s defense team) and the Government tried to keep the immunity provision secret from all of Epstein’s victims and the general public, even though such secrecy violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

For present purposes, the sentence I’ve underlined is the relevant one, as it sets forth the entirety of Jane Doe #3’s account of Dershowitz’s alleged sexual relations with her.

Now let’s look at Dershowitz’s declaration. The declaration sets forth Dershowitz’s blanket denial that he has “ever had any sexual contact of any kind with Jane Doe #3, whose identity has been referenced by the BBC.” If it had gone no further than that blanket denial, I would find nothing odd about it.

What I do find odd is that Dershowitz proceeds to mischaracterize Jane Doe #3’s allegations and to specifically deny the mischaracterized allegations:

1. Dershowitz contends that “Jane Doe #3 has alleged that she had sex with me on Mr. Epstein’s Caribbean island,” and he avers that he was on that island only once, for a day, and was with his wife and daughter during the entire day.

But Jane Doe #3’s allegation about Dershowitz refers generally to “the U.S. Virgin Islands,” not to “Mr. Epstein’s Caribbean island.” (By contrast, an allegation that she levels against Prince Andrew refers to “Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” and another against Jean Luc Brunel calls the island by its name, Little St. James Island.) In other words, while it’s possible to assume that her allegation against Dershowitz relates to Epstein’s private island, her actual allegation isn’t so limited.

2. Dershowitz contends that Jane Doe #3 “has alleged that she had sex with me in Mr. Epstein’s house in New Mexico,” and he avers that he “was in that house only once while it was under construction.”

But Jane Doe #3’s allegation refers to New Mexico generally, not to Epstein’s house.

3. Dershowitz contends that Jane Doe #3 “has accused me of having sex with her on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane,” and he avers that plane manifests will show that he was never on “that plane … under circumstances where it would have been possible to have sex with Jane Doe #3.”

But Jane Doe #3’s allegation against Dershowitz refers to “private planes” generally. (She also refers elsewhere to “Epstein’s private planes”—in the plural.) So if Dershowitz is going to get into specifics, it’s not enough to refer only to Epstein’s plane.

4. Dershowitz also contends that, “[a]s to Mr. Epstein’s homes in New York City and Palm Beach,” he “never had any sexual contact with Jane Doe #3.

But Jane Doe #3’s allegation against Dershowitz refers generally to “New York” and “Florida” and isn’t limited to Epstein’s homes in New York City and Palm Beach.

One has to wonder whether Dershowitz mischaracterizes these allegations in order to be able to deny them with such specifics. A more innocent possibility is that he wrote the draft declaration in a hurry and that he simply didn’t pay sufficient attention to Jane Doe #3’s allegations.

I’m also puzzled by the statement by Dershowitz’s wife (paraphrased in this article) that Dershowitz “was with her and their daughter at the time of the alleged sexual encounters” and by his daughter’s statement that all three of them “were together … during three of the times in question.” Beyond a broad range of three years or so, the motion doesn’t allege the “time” of the supposed acts. It would seem that someone has given Dershowitz’s wife and daughter an inaccurate account of the allegations.

* I’ve linked to the original motion. A “corrected motion” was filed three days later and contains identical language. I haven’t found an online link to it. 

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