An unidentified party is asking a federal appeals court to keep documents under seal that could provide new evidence about alleged child sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein’s international activities, as well as those of his unknown alleged co-conspirators.
Epstein is a wealthy, politically connected financier who is accused of molesting dozens of underage girls—some as young as 13—at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion and private island estate in the Caribbean.
Despite ample evidence and witnesses, he received a controversial plea deal in 2007 that allowed him to serve only 13 months in a private area of the Palm Beach County jail. That arrangement is now under investigation at the U.S. Department of Justice.
The dispute about potentially illuminating documents stems from a related civil case brought by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, against his former partner, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
Giuffre alleged Epstein and Maxwell directed her to perform sex acts on their guests while she was a minor. Maxwell publicly denied the allegations, and Giuffre sued for defamation, saying that she was subjected to “public ridicule, contempt, and disgrace.”
The suit was filed in 2015, and Maxwell settled two years later—but not before 18 hearings and 15 related decisions generated an estimated 1,000 documents that have remained either sealed of redacted.
The Miami Herald, with the support of 32 other media organizations, has spearheaded an effort to make those documents public. The Herald lost a lower court decision, with the judge citing “a lengthy and tumultuous discovery process” with “extreme sensitivities and privacy interests” as the basis for keeping the documents from becoming public.
However, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City appears to be more sympathetic. On March 11, a three-judge panel gave all parties involved in the case until March 19 to provide a compelling case for why any of the documents should remain sealed.
Maxwell, who settled the case to avoid the scrutiny of a trial, continued her effort to keep the summary judgment and discovery documents private. But a mysterious third party, identified only as John Doe, filed an amicus brief in support of her objections on March 19 and asked the court to keep the documents out of the public eye.
“Amicus objects to the unsealing of the Summary Judgment Materials until appropriate protections are imposed (specifically, the redactions of names and personal identifying information) to protect third persons whose privacy and reputations are jeopardized by the release and publication of unadjudicated allegations,” the anonymous brief reads, which was filed by the New York law firm of Nicholas J. Lewin, Paul M. Krieger, and Nicholas F. Bolz.
The John Doe filer said he isn’t affiliated or associated with any party in the case and is unaware of any legal proceeding or law enforcement report in which Giuffre has identified him as either a co-conspirator of Epstein or a person with whom she had sexual relations.
A footnote states that no related party in the case paid to have the brief written or submitted.
“So if he didn’t do anything, then why doesn’t he want to be identified?’’ asked Sanford Bohrer, attorney for The Miami Herald.
“We know that ‘John’ isn’t a victim—so his best scenario is he believes he is wrongly accused. But that’s the purpose of this process—you don’t get to seal it for that reason. We should have facts, compelling facts, that indicate a legally protectable interest that is so compelling that it justifies denying public access,’’ Bohrer said on March 20.
According to the Herald, all parties in the case have agreed to redact the names of minors and any other identifying information regarding alleged victims.
Bohrer also has outlined a process for a prospective document release where representatives from all parties would participate in determining what information should remain undisclosed.
“It may be ‘embarrassing’ for Ms. Maxwell to have the world know the scope of her involvement in trafficking underage girls internationally for sexual purposes,” Giuffre’s lawyers wrote in response to Maxwell’s attempts to keep the documents hidden. “But her involvement in a criminal enterprise does not remotely approach any legitimate ground for sealing.”
Speculation about Epstein’s rumored guests is wide-ranging. Giuffre herself has said Epstein and Maxwell ordered her to perform sex acts on Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard professor and civil libertarian who also represented Epstein during his 2007 plea negotiations.
Dershowitz has emphatically denied the allegations and has filed his own motion to unseal the case documents to prove his innocence.
On March 2, Dershowitz said Democratic lawyer David Boies was representing Giuffre and another of his accusers, and that Boies admitted in private that Dershowitz was falsely accused.
“David Boies, the lawyer for both of my false accusers, has admitted in private that his client has falsely accused me: ‘Your belief’— referring to his client—’is wrong’. ‘Your conclusion is simply wrong’. I challenge Boies to deny this admission under oath,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that “[they] made up their false stories about me only after being ‘pressured’ by their lawyers.”
Another high-profile person associated with Epstein is former President Bill Clinton. According to court documents obtained by Fox News in 2016, subpoenaed flight logs show Clinton took at least 26 trips aboard Epstein’s private jet, at times without his Secret Service detail.