Leslie Wexner, the billionaire former owner of Victoria’s Secret, may be forced to reveal details of his secretive longtime association with Jeffrey Epstein amid a bitter legal battle between the pedophile billionaire’s former lawyer and one of his accusers.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered the unsealing of correspondence between Wexner and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who’s entangled in a defamation lawsuit with Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The new trove of court filings show the Victoria Secret’s mogul has refused to testify or turn over documents requested by Dershowitz to support his countersuit claims that Giuffre wanted to extort Wexner.
Preska ruled she saw “no reason for that correspondence to remain under seal,” and scheduled an Aug. 17 hearing to decide whether Wexner will be forced to testify in the defamation case.
The records are among thousands of documents in the countersuit Dershowitz filed against Giuffre after she accused the Harvard professor of defamation.
While Giuffre has alleged that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, trafficked her to other men—including Dershowitz and Prince Andrew—the lawyer has denied the claims. Hitting back, Dershowitz accused Giuffre of hatching a plan to “falsely accuse him of sex trafficking” in order to “extort a settlement from another party, namely Wexner.”
In a June 23 letter, Dershowitz’s legal team noted they had served subpoenas to Wexner, an 82-year-old billionaire, and his attorney John Zeiger, and asked the judge to compel them to provide “a small number of documents directly relevant to the central allegation in this case that Plaintiff [Giuffre] falsely accused Professor Dershowitz of sexual abuse as part of a scheme to extort Wexner.”
“With Wexner refusing to produce any documents or appear for a deposition, and Zeiger refusing to produce documents or provide testimony absent the entry of an onerous protective order which would severely hamper Professor Dershowitz’s ability to use the discovery in this litigation, the parties are at an impasse,” Dershowitz’s attorney, Howard Cooper, wrote in the newly unsealed letter filed in Manhattan federal court. “From the beginning of the parties’ negotiations, Wexner and Zeiger have taken an extreme view on confidentiality.”
In response, Giuffre’s attorneys slammed Dershowitz’s efforts to “put Mr. Wexner at the heart of false and defamatory” claims against their client—but agreed that he should have to testify.
“Defendant has put Leslie Wexner at the heart of his false and defamatory claims that Plaintiff and her counsel were engaged in an extortion plot to extract money from wealthy associates of Jeffrey Epstein by allegedly falsely naming the Defendant,” Charles J. Cooper, who represents Giuffre in the defamation case, wrote in a July 28 letter.
Noting Dershowitz’s plans to argue that Wexner was “deliberately framed for financial reasons,” Cooper added that for this reason Giuffre was “likewise planning on seeking relevant documents and testimony from Mr. Wexner and Mr. Zeiger” to prove his allegations to be false.
Wexner, who stepped down from his post earlier this year, has been notoriously secretive about his relationship with Epstein—who used to manage the billionaire’s personal finances and those of his family charities. Cited as one of the main streams of revenue associated with Epstein’s financial success, Wexner even installed Epstein as a trustee of his eponymous foundation in 1991 and at one point granted him power of attorney.
Wexner, whose fortune is associated with several retail brands, including The Limited and Victoria’s Secret, has said to have severed ties with Epstein in 2007—the same year the disgraced financier pleaded guilty in state court to soliciting prostitution. Epstein was sentenced to 18 months behind bars as a result, serving 13 before he was released.
In July 2019, Epstein, 66, was arrested by federal authorities in New York and charged with sex trafficking crimes for allegedly luring girls with cash to his Manhattan mansion before sexually abusing them. A month later, Epstein died in a jailhouse suicide.
“I would never have guessed that a person I employed more than a decade ago could have caused such pain to so many people. My heart goes out to each and every person who has been hurt,” Wexner wrote to employees in a July email obtained by The Columbus Dispatch. “I severed all ties with Mr. Epstein nearly 12 years ago. I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behavior as has been reported about him.”
In February, Wexner stepped down as CEO of Victoria’s Secret amid scrutiny about his relationship with Epstein. At the time, Wexer stressed he was unaware of any “illegal activity” by Epstein.
In the newly unsealed letters, Zeiger argued Wexner does not have any information that could be used in a trial. Those close to Wexner have previously denied Dershowitz’s claims, with one insider telling The New York Times in 2015 that Wexner had never met Giuffre and that no extortion attempt was made.
“Professor Dershowitz will address the admissibility of testimony obtained from Wexner at the appropriate time, upon a complete discovery record including being able to offer the Court Wexner’s actual testimony, as opposed to his lawyer’s self-serving characterization of what it will be,” Cooper wrote in a July 31 letter.
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