Dershowitz previously said he welcomed the suit to prove he never had sex with — or even met — Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has accused the noted lawyer and a long list of other prominent men of sexually exploiting her when she was 17 and 18 years old.
But his lawyers argued Tuesday that Giuffre waited too long to file her defamation lawsuit and that her case should be dismissed under the statute of limitations. They said Dershowitz has denied Giuffre's claims since 2015 and has the right to defend his reputation when the accusations are repeated.
Giuffre's allegations date back many years but drew new attention after Epstein was charged in New York with sexually abusing dozens of girls. Epstein killed himself last month in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial.
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes unless they give their consent. Giuffre, 36, has said in court filings that Epstein made her his teenage "love slave" and forced her to have sex with Dershowitz a half-dozen times in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She says Dershowitz also witnessed Epstein abusing other girls.
"It's hard to think of a more viral allegation," Howard Cooper, an attorney for Dershowitz, told U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. "Professor Dershowitz is clearly being active in responding." Giuffre's lawyers countered that Dershowitz has expanded his attacks on Giuffre's credibility over the years, an escalation that allows them a fresh chance to pursue a defamation lawsuit.
"He has a right to come into court and prove it," said Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for Giuffre, referring to Dershowitz's denials. "The law does not allow him to continue to defame my client." Dershowitz, 80, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press he has documents that contradict Giuffre's claims as to his whereabouts. He said Giuffre's story has evolved over time and that she initially did not implicate him in her account of being sex trafficked.
"Giuffre is the central figure in this case," Dershowitz said, "and she's a sworn liar."