A Note on Alan Dershowitz’s Accuser and a Mail on Sunday Journalist

From the Daily Beast, a few days ago:

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz claims an email buried in a mountain of just-unsealed court documents proves that one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers lied when she said she was farmed out for sex with him as a teenager.

The email, dating from May 2011, was from a veteran Mail on Sunday journalist named Sharon Churcher, and it had been sent to Dershowitz’s accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre a couple of months after Guiffre’s story of her time with Epstein had provided the basis for Churcher’s splash “Prince Andrew and the 17-year-old girl his sex offender friend flew to Britain to meet him“. Guiffre was attempting to put together a book, and she had emailed Churcher asking “if you have any information on you from when you and I were doing interviews about the J.E. story”, particularly as regards names of “pedo’s” (sic) “that J.E. sent me to”.

Churcher’s reply:

Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz… J.E.’s buddy and lawyer…good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case… title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging out with JE.

“You probably met him” indicates that this is a name that Churcher is speculatively proposing, rather than someone Guiffre had herself previously named to her. Even though this is Churcher providing informal advice rather than working on a new story, the implications of a journalist advising a source about whom they might derive benefit from accusing are troubling.

The story continues:

Churcher, who no longer works at the Mail on Sunday, declined to comment.

Similarly, a new longer piece in the Washington Post on Dershowitz’s feud with Guiffre’s lawyer David Boies covers the same ground, and we’re told that

Churcher did not respond to a request for an interview.

However, although Churcher may be reticent about being part of the story, she’s still writing about the Epstein scandal – such as in the Sun, where she’s proudly bylined as “Sharon Churcher, Journalist who broke the story”.

The released cache also shows that Guiffre, when interviewed in a 2016 deposition, disputed a number of statements attributed to her by Churcher in 2011. As noted by Courthouse News:

The sweeping interview, only 20 pages of which appear in a newly unsealed exhibit, takes Giuffre through a list of statements attributed to her by Mail on Sunday reporter Sharon Churcher.

Asked by an attorney to identify whether any of the Churcher statements were inaccurate, Giuffre put check marks next to about a dozen bombshells, clarifying details such as who saw President Bill Clinton get into a “huge black helicopter” with accused Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell.

…“Donald Trump never flirted with me,” Giuffre said. “Then the next sentence is, ‘He’d laugh and tell Jeffrey, “you’ve got the life.”’ I never said that to her.”

Law & Crime, meanwhile, picks out a few further details:

In the deposition, Giuffre disagreed with reporter Churcher’s reference to herself as a “pedophile’s dream.”

“I said something along the line like . . . ‘the pedos loved me because I would do everything that they wanted for them,'” Giuffre said in the deposition. “But do I think that — yeah, I — I know [Churcher] made that line up herself, the pedos — pedophile’s dream.”

According to Connie Bruck in the New Yorker, Guiffre says that “Churcher showed her pictures of prominent men in Epstein’s circle”, and Giuffre “identified some of those she’d had sex with”. There is no indication that Churcher included any unrelated photos in order to test for false positives.

Guiffre of course did later accuse Dershowitz, and she explains the Churcher email by suggesting that the journalist had simply forgotten this. According to Bruck:

Giuffre told me, “I can’t say what she was thinking, but I think she threw Alan into it forgetting that I had already mentioned him, even informed her of the experiences I had with him.”

UPDATE (November 2019): The Dershowitz story has since been overshadowed by renewed interest in the Prince Andrew angle. An article in the Mail on Sunday by Ian Gallagher tells us that Guiffre had indeed accused the prince in the account she provided to Churcher in 2011, despite the statement in Churcher’s 2011 article that “There is no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.” That sentence, of course, was included for legal reasons, and it is very reasonable to suppose that Guiffre made claims that Churcher’s editors would have rejected as too risky to publish. However, one wonders why there is no apparent “smoking gun” reference to Andrew in the private correspondence between Churcher and Guiffre.


(Expanded – thanks to Bandini in the comments for the New Yorker link)

One Response

  1. Regarding the Churcher/Dershowitz thing, Giuffre was asked about this – prior to the release of the papers – in a long New Yorker piece:

    “When Giuffre asked for help reconstructing the list of men she had compiled from looking at photographs, Churcher mentioned Dershowitz, writing that she and others suspected him of sexual misconduct, “and tho no proof of that, you probably met him.”
    Giuffre told me, “I can’t say what she was thinking but I think she threw Alan into it forgetting that I had already mentioned him, even informed her of the experiences I had with him.”

    Churcher’s memory must be as bad as her dreadful journalism.


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