An underage sex scandal quickly became a billion dollar extortion attempt involving a former federal judge, a retail magnate, and Alan Dershowitz -- at least according to Dershowitz himself. The famous lawyer testified under oath last Thursday that Paul Cassell, a former federal judge and current Utah law professor, and Brad Edwards, a Florida lawyer, tried to use him as part of a "criminal conspiracy" to extort one billion dollars.
You might remember the Dershowitz from his defense of Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, and O.J. Simpson -- or maybe from his almost 50 years teaching at Harvard Law. The current controversy stems from another controversial Dershowitz representation, this time of Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of organizing an underage sex ring.
The Roots of the "Conspiracy"
Before Dershowitz was accusing others of extortion, he was defending Jeffery Epstein against claims that he sexually abused underage girls. Epstein, who made billions as Wall Street financier, was accused of having sex with children as young as 14. Epstein was represented by his friend, Alan Dershowitz, and eventually pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a child and served just 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
One of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, claimed that Epstein not only slept with her when she was 15 but kept her captive and trafficked her to everyone from Prince Albert to Dershowitz himself.
Crime Victim Rights Act Claims and Defamation Disputes
Enter Cassell, the former judge, and Edwards, the Florida attorney. The two brought suit on behalf of several women who were abused by Epstein. Their suit alleges that the government handling of Epstein's prosecution violated the women's' rights under the Crime Victims' Rights Act. Cassell and Edwards attempted to bring Virginia Roberts in to the suit, but her joinder motion was denied, according to Above the Law. The suit included allegations against Dershowitz and others, though they were not listed as defendants.
Dershowitz, predictably, objected and claimed that he would seek Cassell and Edwards' disbarment. They beat him to the punch, suing Dershowitz for defamation.
Dershowitz's Extortion Claims
And that brings us to Dershowitz's deposition last week. At his deposition, the Daily Business Review reports, Dershowitz went after Roberts. She and her lawyers weren't seeking justice, but instead wanted to get him to pressure another billionaire, Les Wexner, into a $1 billion payout. Wexner is CEO and chairman of L Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret and other retailers.
"There was a criminal extortion plot," Dershowitz said under oath, "and your clients were involved." According to Dershowitz, the $1 billion payment would be split three ways, a third going to Virginia Roberts, a third to Cassell and Edwards, and a third to the rest of the victims.
Of course, Dershowitz's accusations are just one of many in a case full of wild accusations. And it hasn't seemed to faze Cassell or Edwards. Edwards described it as simply "pretty funny."