In cases of sexual assault and trafficking, it’s not unusual to see victims assigned pseudonyms such as “Jane Doe,” especially when they were underage at the time. How often does one see such pseudonyms assigned to potential perps? One associate of Jeffrey Epstein wants the John Doe treatment in an upcoming lawsuit brought by Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, arguing in a motion filed yesterday that anyone not party to the complaint should not have their reputations besmirched:
Just as one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers heads to court today to ask a judge to unseal more court documents, a new mystery man is terrified he’ll be named and his reputation will be tarnished.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 4, 2019
An anonymous man on Tuesday urged a New York judge to permanently keep secret many of the remaining sealed documents in a defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, against the late money manager’s confidante, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. …
Hundreds of pages of sealed documents in the 2015 case were already made public by an appeals court on Aug. 9, revealing for the first time unsubstantiated claims that Epstein had sent Giuffre to have sex with well-known people when she was a girl, including former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and asset manager Glenn Dubin. The men denied the allegations.
Now, two subsets of additional sealed documents are due to be analyzed by a judge who’ll decide if they should also be made public. Doe said he hadn’t been notified that his name appears in the sealed documents. A hearing on the matter is set for Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan.
“As a non-party to these proceedings, Doe lacks specific knowledge about the contents of the sealed materials,” his lawyers wrote. “But it is clear that these materials implicate the privacy and reputational interests of many persons other than the two primary parties to this action, Giuffre and Maxwell.”
How serious is the threat? Giuffre attorney David Boies says it’s pretty darned serious, and the motion itself quotes a judge’s description of the material:
“It’s a whole new set of documents, five to 10 times larger in volume than what has been released so far,” the lawyer said, referring to nearly 2,000 pages of case documents that were made public on Aug. 9 — just a day before Epstein’s death by suicide at a lower Manhattan jail.
Bois said the still-sealed tranche contains depositions from never-before-heard witnesses, but declined to provide any names. …
The letter goes on to say a prior judge overseeing the case summarized the still-secret documents as containing a “range of allegations of sexual acts involving Plaintiff and non-parties to this litigation, some famous, some not; the identities of non-parties who either allegedly engaged in sexual acts with Plaintiff or who allegedly facilitated such acts.”
Doe’s lawyers do not say in the papers if he is famous, or what accusations he expects to face in the court papers. His attorneys did not immediately return a message.
Sounds interesting, no? It certainly doesn’t sound sympathetic, however. Those who partied with Epstein may or may not have known about his predilection for underage girls, but they had to know that they were running some kind of risk. Perhaps they fell under the spell of Epstein’s arrogance of untouchability; if so, the spell has been broken big time. And Epstein’s victims deserve the full measure of justice they can still get after Epstein decided to take the coward’s way out. This John Doe is most decidedly not among the victims, even if he may not be among the explicit perps in this case.
Still, a judge might see this as a question of fairness. If Giuffre and other Epstein victims want to put names in the record, they should make those men party to the case by suing them as well. If they cannot sustain a lawsuit against them, then a judge might see no choice but to assign them pseudonyms in order to allow the documents and testimony to be admitted into evidence.
That may not save John Doe anyway. Nothing prevents the victims from telling their stories in public, as Giuffre has already begun to do. If she names names, the only recourse John Doe would have would be to sue her for defamation — and open himself up to discovery, cross-examination, and potential impeachment by cooperating witnesses. Even if Doe gets the relief he seeks today, it’s not likely to last long unless he reaches a settlement with the victims. Welcome to justice, left-holding-the-bag edition.