Alan Dershowitz Must Face Defamation Suit Filed After Twitter Dare

The attorney and pundit tweeted that his rape accusers were guilty of perjury and challenged them to sue for defamation. One woman did.
Jemal Countess/WireImage

Alan Dershowitz must face a defamation lawsuit that was filed after he dared those accusing him of rape to sue him.

Dershowitz denies accusations that he raped Virginia Roberts Giuffre as part of Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking operation and, in multiple interviews on the subject, has told the press she's lying. In March, he tweeted, "I hereby accuse my false accusers of committing the felony of perjury and challenge them to sue me for defamation. They won't, because they know the truth will land them in prison." 

Giuffre took him up on the suggestion, and he replied by asking the court to toss the lawsuit he asked for on the grounds that it was filed outside the statute of limitations (because he first denied the allegations years ago) and that his statements are protected by the self-defense privilege. 

Dershowitz also asked the court to disqualify Giuffre's legal team at Boies Schiller Flexner because attorneys at the firm had offered to help him defend such allegations back in 2015 and he had shared with them confidential information about the case and his legal strategy. After receiving that info, the lawyers told Dershowitz they discovered a conflict and couldn't represent him. Additionally, Dershowitz claims Boies on multiple occasions told him he didn't believe Giuffre's allegations.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska on Wednesday declined to dismiss the suit but agreed Giuffre needs to find a new legal team because lawyers at BSF are likely to be called as witnesses in the matter. 

Preska didn't buy Dershowitz's argument that the statements he made in 2018 and 2019 were "substantively identical" to ones he made in 2015, and under New York's single publication rule she would have had to sue years ago.

"In adapting the rule for the Internet, the New York Court of Appeals recognized that one of the rationales for the rule was to prevent 'endless retriggering of the statute of limitations,''' writes Preska, clarifying that the case law doesn't provide that "once a defendant makes a statement in a prominent place on the Internet, he can proactively repeat that claim in new places on the Internet ad infinitum and remain immune from suit."

In this case, Preska finds Dershowitz actively sought to reach new audiences in 2018 and 2019 by giving interviews to multiple outlets with which he didn't speak in 2015. 

"[H]e admits he took affirmative steps to republish his prior statements to defend himself and his reputation by influencing new audiences or re-influencing old audiences," writes Preska in the order, which is posted below. "Said differently, Dershowitz went looking for trouble, and by his repeated affirmative republications, he found it."

At the motion-to-dismiss stage, with the plaintiff's pleadings presumed as true, Preska also declined to grant the motion under the self-defense argument and leave that issue to a jury.