The Dersh’s conundrum was obvious: he was accused of heinous conduct in a proceeding where he wasn’t a party, thus precluding him from the opportunity to present a defense. So he took to the streets to defend his honor and reputation. This isn’t to pick sides in the fight, but to acknowledge that it is a fight, and even the Dersh gets to defend himself.
Not so, cry the women of Harvard Law School, Anna Joseph and Kerry Richards.
Alan Dershowitz—famed defense attorney and former professor at Harvard Law School—has been accused of being one of the individuals who were provided with an underage “sex slave” by Jeffrey Epstein, Dershowitz’s friend and client. Dershowitz has not been charged with a crime and is not a party to the lawsuit in which the accusing affidavit was filed. Though neither Dershowitz’s liberty nor his property are at stake, he has responded with public and aggressive victim-blaming.
What interest do Joseph and Richards have in this morass? This is an increasingly common phenomenon, the social justice warrior’s duty as a privileged person to insert themselves on behalf of the downtrodden and challenge their oppression.
While Jane Doe #3 has her own lawyers, Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell, more than ready to do her bidding, these two couldn’t bear the Dersh’s “public and aggressive victim-blaming,” and so they felt compelled to call him out. They fulfilled their duty to fight evil wherever they find it.
Where is the focus on the plaintiff’s courage? On her horrifying experience, and on the experiences of the millions of other minors bought and sold for sex each year? When rape victims do come forward, where is the focus on ensuring we don’t re-victimize them in the media?
Aside from the dubious and unsupported claim of millions of minors bought and sold for sex each year, they attack the Dersh for being insensitive toward his accuser rather than lauding her courage while calling her a liar.
The Dersh makes the point in his reply:
Joseph and Richards complain about my aggressive response to her false accusations, arguing that “neither Dershowitz’s liberty nor his property are at stake.” This trivializes the seriousness of being falsely accused of a heinous crime such as child rape. My reputation is so important to me that I have in fact put my liberty and property at risk by denying the allegations under oath, thus subjecting me to a perjury prosecution if I were not telling the truth, and by castigating the lawyers who filed these false charges, thus subjecting me to a defamation lawsuit by them.
Joseph and Richards would like me to “focus on the plaintiff’s courage.” But it takes no courage to file a maliciously false charge and hide behind the litigation privilege.
The nature of this tête-à-tête, played out in the Harvard Law Record, is reminiscent of the debate over whether it’s legitimate for a criminal defense lawyer to engage in “slut shaming” in the defense of a rape charge.
The two law students who accuse the Dersh of defending himself in a way that offends their sensibilities are pursuing a social justice prerogative, that only those defenses that meet their approval are allowed. This is what comes of taking viable defenses off the table for reasons wholly extrinsic to the situation at hand.
The Dersh’s contention is that Jane Doe #3 is a liar, that her accusations are incredible based upon a number of aspects of her life and conduct, among other reasons.
This is a mature woman with a long history of lies, including recent ones. She has claimed to have dinner with former President Bill Clinton and two underage females on Jeffrey Epstein’s island. She has also claimed to have met former Vice President Gore and Mrs. Gore on the same island. Yet I am advised that secret Service records will conclusively prove that none of them ever stepped foot on Epstein’s private island. Moreover, according to recent press reports, just before she falsely claims she had sex with me, she falsely claimed to have been raped by two friends with whom she had a consensual threesome in a car. After a thorough investigation of her claims, the State Attorney refused to prosecute because of the alleged victim’s “lack of credibility.” Shortly thereafter, she was fired from her job at a restaurant for stealing money from her employer.
As unpleasant as this may be, Jane Doe #3 put her credibility on the line, and anything material to her credibility is fair game, no matter how many tears are shed for her otherwise. In using what is available in his own defense, the Dersh isn’t crossing some line that exists only in the imagination of these students.
Joseph and Richards also accuse me of being sexist for not showing compassion to a woman who is seeking to ruin my life, my career and my reputation by making up a completely false story about me. Let me assure them that there is nothing sexist about me attacking this perjurer.
The overlay of sexist ideology upon the right to defend oneself against false accusations is a big, and growing, problem. Not only does the accused (whether it’s in criminal proceedings, campus proceedings or, as here, collateral proceedings) have the right to raise any and every material fact in opposition to accusations claimed to be false, but he would then be subject to a secondary level of accusation based upon his doing so. Not only would he be a child rapist, but a misogynist for challenging the accusation that he was a child rapist.
According to Joseph and Richards, the Dersh is free to defend his honor, provided he does so without raising challenges that offend their dogma, like victim blaming. Defend all you want, provided your defense is limited to those points consistent with our ideology.
The defense of accusations, whether of heinous conduct as here or any other conduct, does not need to meet the satisfaction of social justice ideologues. When someone accuses another person, the other person gets to defend, using anything and everything that is material and relevant, no matter how distasteful social justice warriors may find their use to be.
It’s rather sad and pathetic that Harvard Law School hasn’t taught students like Joseph and Richards this reality, but their misguided compulsion to insert themselves on behalf of the downtrodden has no bearing on the right to defend oneself. And even the Dersh gets to do so.