On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported an apparent change of heart in constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz regarding a lawsuit that accuses him of having sex with a 16-year-old girl 20 years ago.
In April, Dershowitz, who sometimes works as a commentator on Fox News, appeared glad to publicly air the issue in court, telling the Herald, "I welcome this lawsuit because everything in the complaint is false and I will be able to disprove all of this in a court of law." Now, however, he is seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out altogether.
The lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has alleged that she was passed around to men including Dershowitz at parties hosted by billionaire wealth manager and accused child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, accuses Dershowitz of defamation and seeks at least $75,000 in damages.
Dershowitz, for his part, denies that he is in any way backing down — he says that the lawsuit is invalid on First Amendment grounds because the speech alleged to be defamatory is constitutionally protected. He maintains that all allegations are false, saying that he never met Epstein until after one of the plaintiff's key witness stopped working for him.
New York criminal justice professor Carl M. Bornstein told the Herald, "He wants this forum and is elevating it to a constitutional dimension. I don't think he is concerned what the basis for the dismissal is; this is just a counterpunch, he is not retreating at all."
Epstein has been accused of serially trafficking underage girls between his multiple estates for sex parties, but was given a secret plea agreement that allowed him to only serve a brief sentence for soliciting prostitution. The deal, brokered by President Donald Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was then a federal prosecutor in Florida, has come under scrutiny after a federal judge ruled it violated the Crime Victims Rights Act. The victims are pushing to have the plea deal overturned, but the Justice Department has said it must stand.