Originally published at The Electronic Intifada
There are two groups of people Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has spent his career resolutely defending. The first is Israeli war criminals. And the second is accused and convicted rapists.
As rape allegations against Dershowitz intensify, his increasingly bellicose denials, steeped in brazen hostility towards child victims of sexual abuse, are raising eyebrows.
With smear tactics that closely resemble the manner in which he attacks Palestinian victims of Israeli violence, Dershowitz rejected the latest allegations as fabrications, telling Local 10 News that his accuser, Virginia Roberts, is a “serial liar” and “prostitute.”
At the age of fifteen Roberts was groomed into sexual slavery by Dershowitz’s close friend and client, billionaire hedge fund financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Just one of dozens of underage girls Epstein procured, Roberts was lent out to Epstein’s powerful associates for sexual exploitation and blackmail.
She recently named two of those associates as Alan Dershowitz and Britain’s Prince Andrew in an ongoing lawsuit against the federal government for its scandalous handling of the case.
In a sworn affidavit filed in a Florida court on 21 January, Jane Doe #3, who has identified herself in media reports as Virginia Roberts, provided new details about Dershowitz’s alleged role in sexually abusing her when she was a minor.
“Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz was around Epstein frequently,” declares Roberts in the filing. “Dershowitz was so comfortable with the sex that was going on that he would even come and chat with Epstein while I was giving oral sex to Epstein.” Roberts added that she had sex with Dershowitz “at least six times,” specifying where and when the encounters took place.
When Local 10 News reporter Bob Norman pushed backed against Dershowitz’s characterization of a child molestation victim of Jeffrey Epstein as a “prostitute,” Dershowitz responded, “She was not victimized … she made her own decisions in life.” He also questioned whether the now 31-year-old Roberts is fit to be a mother.
Weeks earlier Dershowitz labeled Roberts a “serial prostitute” whose testimony could not be trusted “against somebody with an unscathed reputation like me.”
While Dershowitz’s hysterical misogyny may seem puzzling, it is hardly out of character.
Pattern of hatred
For decades Dershowitz has positioned himself as a strong advocate for accused and convicted rapists, child molesters and wife killers under the guise of protecting the civil liberties of the accused. However, a deeper examination of his work reveals a pathological pattern of hatred against victims of rape that appears to have been overshadowed by his advocacy for torture and Israel.
In August 1994, Dershowitz shamelessly capitalized on the notorious rape allegations against three Duke University basketball players, which turned out to be fabricated.
“The problem of false rape reports is a serious one,” wrote Dershowitz in The Washington Times, characterizing the rare episode as emblematic of false flag rape reports by spiteful, selfish women coddled by a society that privileges alleged victims of rape to the detriment of innocent men across the country. “The time has come to stop patronizing calculating women who use rape accusations to serve their own selfish interests,” Dershowitz proclaimed.
Dershowitz went on to cite as proof a highly questionable study carried by out by Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin, which found that 41 percent of rape allegations were false. Kanin’s finding was based on police records of rape reports over a nine-year period (1978 to 1987) from a police department in an unidentified small midwestern town. Despite the shady methodology, lack of transparency on source material and criticism from several scholars, Kanin’s study has long been invoked by “men’s rights activists” (MRAs) as evidence that women often lie about rape in a system rigged in their favor.
In reality, false rape reports are extremely rare. That’s not to say that false allegations are unimportant or that they should be ignored. But Dershowitz’s proposed solution in his Washington Times column was to criminally prosecute women suspected of filing false rape charges, a practice that has exacted a disastrous toll in the UK.
That same year, Dershowitz published a little known book titled, The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility, a collection of short essays warning of a trend in violent criminals, particularly women, blaming their actions on past victimization.
Throughout the book Dershowitz conjures up a cartoonish image of “radical feminists” as a scourge on equality, free speech and the civil liberties of innocent men. He portrays radical feminist leaders as a combination of anti-pornography campaigners Catharine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin coupled with Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who notoriously severed her husband’s penis while he was sleeping in 1993.
Naturally, The Abuse Excuse has been embraced by MRAs for its hostility towards women. In a glowing review of that book published at the MRA website A Voice for Men, the author implores his fellow MRAs to “go to your local library and pick up a copy,” adding, “I think it should be required reading for all MRAs.”
Flipping through the book, one can see why.
In a chapter titled, “Wives Also Kill Husbands — Quite Often,” Dershowitz rails against “radical feminists” for concealing the deadly spousal violence wives (especially Black wives) inflict on their husbands across America.
There is no question that men can be and are victims of domestic violence (as well as sexual violence) at the hands of female perpetrators; this problem is, of course, much less common than violence by men against women. But Dershowitz’s tall tale of a feminist conspiracy to disappear male victims doesn’t square with reality.
In a chapter titled “Censorship from the Left,” Dershowitz warns his readers that “Several feminist groups recently persuaded the New York Court of Appeals to create a new crime — marital rape.” He followed up, as he often does after declaring something awful, with the disclaimer, “there is nothing wrong with making it a crime for a husband to rape his wife,” but he insisted that it must be enacted by popular vote through the legislature.
In another chapter, Dershowitz blasts female university students for “intimidating professors into teaching only what their most radical feminist students want to hear.” He warns of an all-powerful campus movement of radical feminists imposing a “new tyranny of censorship” so extreme, “even many tenured professors do not want to incur the wrath of organized feminists on campus.”
Dershowitz later whined that his female students at Harvard were “trivializing real sexual harassment” after some complained that he devoted a disproportionate amount of his rape law lectures to false rape allegations. “They found the atmosphere of my classroom hostile because I spent two days discussing false reports of rape and because I made arguments in favor of disclosing the names of complaining witnesses in rape cases,” he said.
Dershowitz claimed that the angry feminist students even threatened to press “hostile-environment sexual harassment charges.” Even though the supposed charges were never filed, he warned that feminists were infringing on free speech by expanding the definition of sexual harassment.
Defending church cover-up
In 2002 — a time when, according to Jeffrey Epstein’s housekeeper, Dershowitz frequently stayed at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion where the rape of children was taking place daily and in his presence — Dershowitz took up the cause of child pornography viewers. In his column for the magazine Penthouse, Dershowitz invoked the language of individual rights to argue that watching “kiddie porn” doesn’t make one a bad person and therefore should not be a punishable offense.
In 2005, after three teenage boys were convicted of statutory rape for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl at the Milton Academy, a ritzy Massachusetts boarding school attended by Dershowitz’s daughter, Dershowitz slammed Massachusetts’s statutory rape laws, a fair argument considering the close ages between the boys and the girl (the boys were between the ages of sixteen and seventeen and the sex was consensual). But that wasn’t all. Dershowitz went even further, agitating for the state to “considerably” lower the age of consent, which was sixteen years, The Boston Globe reported at the time.
Dershowitz went on to defend the Catholic Church’s inaction and cover-up of child molestation in 2010. Writing in FrontPage Magazine, a far-right outlet published by slavery apologist David Horowitz, Dershowitz told readers that children sometimes lie about rape. “It’s easy to forget, in the face of real victims with real complaints, that there have also been false accusations as well,” said Dershowitz.
Smearing a whistle-blower to protect a child molester
In the weeks leading up to the 30 December 2014 court filing that named him as a rapist in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slave scheme, Dershowitz was trying to overturn the guilty verdict of convicted child rapist and award-winning Hollywood director Roman Polanski. It was one of the few times he failed.
Before that, Dershowitz was busy protecting Hasidic Brooklyn cantor and child molester Baruch Lebovits from punishment by defaming the father of one of Lebovits’s victims.
Lebovits was convicted in 2010 on eight of ten counts of child molestation and faced up to 32 years in prison. That conviction was overturned on a technicality after Alan Dershowitz joined his legal team. Dershowitz declared at the time, “our client was a victim of an extortion plot,” a foreshadowing of his response to rape allegations against himself. “I’m an innocent victim of an extortion conspiracy,” Dershowitz has insisted.
In Lebovits’ case, the extortion claims advanced by Dershowitz turned out to be a lie. Nevertheless, Lebovits was released back into the community last October after a short sixteen-month stint at Rikers Island on incredibly reduced charges.
Sam Kellner, the father of one of Lebovits’ many victims who brought the child sex abuse scandal to the attention of the authorities, was viciously slandered by the Lebovits family. Using fabricated evidence, the Lebovits family accused Kellner of trying to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from Baruch Lebovits in exchange for recanting his son’s testimony. Kellner was eventually indicted.
Alan Dershowitz played a central role in spreading the smear against Kellner, which was crucial to Lebovits’ defense. Though the charges against Kellner were eventually dismissed after it was determined that the accusation was fabricated, Dershowitz has continued to promote the wild falsehood against Kellner, whose reputation and family life were nearly destroyed by the episode.
For Dershowitz, this thuggish manipulation was par for the course.
During his time as lead attorney on Jeffrey Epstein’s defense team, Dershowitz mobilized a pre-emptive smear campaign against Epstein’s underage victims, mining their pages on the social network MySpace for comments relating to marijuana and alcohol use, which he printed out and compiled into dossiers for the police and state attorney’s office in a salacious attempt to tarnish the credibility of Epstein’s accusers.
Dershowitz hired private investigators to track and dig up dirt on at least one of the underage girls who accused Epstein of rape. The girl, a high school student, reported that one of the private investigators had impersonated a police officer while asking her questions. In a letter from Dershowitz to the Palm Beach police chief, obtained by The Guardian, Dershowitz attached a copy of the girl’s MySpace page, noting “her apparent fascination with marijuana,” and expressed fears “that she, an accomplished drama student, might try to mislead [the private investigators] as successfully as she had misled others.”
In light of his penchant for bullying, harassing, intimidating and smearing rape victims and their advocates with mafia-like precision, it should come as no surprise that Dershowitz has also been a leading voice against rape shield laws, which restrict defendants from using the past sexual behavior of an alleged rape victim to discredit them.
In 2011, Dershowitz was enamored as former head of the International Monetary Fund and accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn successfully impugned the character of his accuser (an immigrant hotel maid) by publicizing inconsistencies in her background that had no connection to whether or not he raped her. Commenting on the Strauss-Kahn case, Dershowitz argued that the press was “dead wrong” not to name alleged rape victims.
“It is absolutely critical” for media outlets to publish names, argued Dershowitz, “so that people who know the victim or know her reputation can come forward to provide relevant information.”
Persecuted by “vindictive feminists”?
Dershowitz does not extend his appeal for transparency to people who pay for sex.
In a column published in The Gainesville Sun in January 1985, Dershowitz held “vindictive feminists” responsible for the arrest of track and field Olympic Gold medalist Edwin Moses in a Los Angeles police sting on Sunset Boulevard that had swept up dozens of people for allegedly soliciting sex workers. Dershowitz reasoned that feminists were so angry over the punishment dished out to sex workers, they were using their omnipotence over the criminal justice system to coerce police departments into punishing male customers.
While portraying middle and upper class men who solicit sex as the true victims of prohibition, Dershowitz disparaged sex workers as practically subhuman criminals. “There really is an enormous difference in impact between the arrest of a professional prostitute and the arrest of an otherwise law-abiding citizen who occasionally seeks to taste the forbidden fruit of sex for hire,” argued Dershowitz.
“For the prostitute, an occasional arrest is an expected occupation hazard. The quick arraignment, bail and fine are regarded as a cost of doing business. She is back on the street hustling her next john within hours. Certainly there is little stigma or embarrassment in being arrested; the street-walker publicly advertises what she’s doing every time she puts on her ‘uniform’ and takes to the sidewalks,” he continued.
“For the john, the public arrest can be a catastrophic event. It can ruin a marriage, destroy a reputation, scar his children, terminate a career.”