In January 2017, social media personality Mike Cernovich filed a motion to intervene in the much-publicized lawsuit between a victim of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Virginia Giuffre (nee Roberts) and Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of acting as a groomer for a sex trafficking network run by Epstein. Cernovich’s motion included a request to unseal documents in the case filed by Maxwell as part of a motion for summary judgement which relate to “adjudication of the merits of the action.” On his personal blog Cernovich stated that his involvement stemmed from public interest in learning details about the alleged madam of a “massive international sex-trafficking ring.” But is Cernovich’s interest in the case legitimate?
An examination of the facts indicates that Cernovich’s interest may not be legitimate. Most other major parties to the case seeking to unseal documents – such as Alan Dershowitz and the Miami Herald – are also likely involved out of their own illegitimate interest. Not only could their intentions be said to have been imputed to Cernovich, but statements made by counsel for the victims of Jeffrey Epstein as well as Cernovich’s own actions and statements before and during the case imply that his decision to intervene stems from an improper motive.
I. Plaintiff’s Criticism Of Cernovich
In their response to Cernovich’s motion to intervene and unseal, lawyers for Virginia Giuffre delivered a scathing reply. Central to the plaintiff’s claims was the contention that Cernovich’s motion was indistinguishable from a previous motion to unseal filed by Dershowitz, and was presented with the same intent.
Giuffre’s attorneys noted that Cernovich was requesting Ghislaine Maxwell’s motion for summary judgement which included nearly 700 pages of exhibits but none of the other records in the case, which spanned 586 docket entries at the time of filing. As a motion for summary judgement is composed of a party’s strongest argument for an immediate favorable ruling, it could be expected that Maxwell’s motion would be heavily one sided and the exhibits contain mostly information that would be harmful to the plaintiff. Cernovich did not request Giuffre’s response in opposition to the motion, meaning that he had no intention of giving his audience a nuanced, balanced view of that case in the event that his motion was granted.
Furthermore, the plaintiff noted that Cernovich’s motion sought to acquire all of the documents sought by Dershowitz. They further postulated that this “coincidence” was potentially related to the longstanding ties Mike Cernovich has had to Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz had previously starred in a feature film produced by Cernovich called “Silenced.” In now-deleted promotional material for Silenced posted to Cernovich’s blog Danger and Play, he described Dershowitz as an “inspiration” and “personal joy.” The summer before joining Giuffre’s suit against Maxwell, Cernovich had posted an image of himself with Dershowitz “talking free speech” during the period that he was working on Silenced.
The very reason that the court had imposed a protective order in the Giuffre v. Maxwell case was due to the fact that it involved sex abuse and trafficking of minors and young women. While a protective order shields all parties from harm and embarrassment, it is primarily intended to shield victims by concealing their identities. This would have been obvious to anyone reading the original complaint, but would have been especially apparent to Cernovich since he is a licensed attorney in the state of California. Mr. Cernovich no doubt knew that were his motion to be granted, the victims of Jeffrey Epstein would at the very least suffer emotional distress from the increased public scrutiny in an already high profile incident.
II. Dershowitz’s Motive
Understanding Alan Dershowitz’s motive for seeking to unseal records in the case requires an examination of his past behavior and statements. Dershowitz served as Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer while he faced criminal charges and as recently as December 2018 said that he continues to provide Epstein with legal advice. Epstein’s legal team also included Kenneth Starr, who has previously written a letter advocating leniency for a convicted child abuser.
A cornerstone of Dershowitz’s defense included using extensive harassment of not only victims but also local police and the prosecutors going after Epstein. Dershowitz used private investigators to stalk the families of victims and tried to smear them by showing character evidence about alleged marijuana use to police. He investigated members of the Palm Beach Police Department and the prosecutorial team in an effort to pressure them into dropping the charges. These efforts may have been so intense due to the fact that Dershowitz himself was accused of using the services of Epstein’s trafficking ring, charges he emphatically denies.
This is not the first time that Dershowitz has defended clients accused of sex crimes. He has previously served as counsel to Roman Polanski and Baruch Lebovits. In the Lebovits case, which was marred by accusations of prosecutorial mishandling, Dershowitz smeared a key witness while accusing him of extortion much like he has in matters relating to the Epstein scandal.
Dershowitz has for years advocated policies that diminish the rights of victims in cases where sex crimes have allegedly occurred. His previous comments include a call to lower the age of consent “considerably” in Massachusetts and advocating for weakened “rape shield” laws so that victims can be challenged in court by those they are accusing of sexual assault. In 1985, Dershowitz wrote a fairly shocking article for the Gainesville Sun where he argued that legal penalties for those who solicited the services of prostitutes should be reduced because an arrest in connection with this crime could be a “catastrophic event.” Such a tone towards victims of sex trafficking is reminiscent of the manner in which the Sackler family regarded those who became addicted to their opiate Oxycontin.
Dershowitz has savagely attacked victims of Jeffrey Epstein who have come forward and made claims against him. Dismissing them as “prostitutes” and threatening to sue them for defamation, Dershowitz said as recently as March 6, 2019 that he hoped Giuffre would go to prison. Although the former Harvard law professor has settled past claims of sexual misconduct leveled against him, fresh allegations have arisen in their place. The judge in Giuffre v. Maxwell stated clearly that the veracity of the claims made about sexual relations between victims and alleged perpetrators was immaterial to the case and would not be addressed.
As there has been no repudiation of the claims against Dershowitz, he must proceed with efforts to unseal records due to being caught “all-in” during this dangerous game of high stakes poker. Perhaps this explains the recent efforts to limit press access to the appeal of the denied motion to unseal being heard by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
III. The Miami Herald’s Motive
The Miami Herald intervened in Giuffre v. Maxwell in April 2018, long after the case had settled in 2017. They argued that since the case was no longer ongoing, all documents should be made public. The Herald was seeking the information to inform their investigative series Perversion of Justice, which focuses on how Jeffrey Epstein was able to secure such a lenient sentence of 18 months in prison despite being at the center of a major sex trafficking ring. Court documents and filing records indicate that both Cernovich and Dershowitz joined the Herald’s motion, the latter likely doing so as part of his overall effort to discredit and attack Epstein victims claiming Epstein directed them to have sexual relations with Dershowitz.
Curiously, Cernovich has repeatedly claimed on Twitter that the Miami Herald was joining “his lawsuit” when in fact they filed a separate motion to intervene and unseal which Cernovich joined. In some cases, Cernovich linked to a page on his blog where he explicitly solicited donations to support the lawsuit. On legal crowdfunding website Funded Justice, Cernovich was very careful not to repeat these false claims and correctly identified the Herald’s motion as being separate and unique from the one he filed himself.
The Miami Herald’s motion itself could be said to be borne out of a biased motive. Their investigation of the Epstein case revolves around a clear desire to damage the reputation of Alex Acosta, who was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida during the Epstein affair. The Herald makes Acosta a scapegoat while failing to show the full picture. They make no mention of Acosta’s claim to the Washington Post that he and his team were pressured and investigated by Alan Dershowitz and the rest of Epstein’s legal team as were the Miami police and Epstein’s victims. No attention is given to the fact that deal presented to the DOJ by the allegedly harassed and beaten-down prosecutorial team in Miami was approved by Mark Flip, a Bush appointee. The Bush family has previously been connected to Arrow Child and Family Ministries, which absorbed Jerry Sandusky’s The Second Mile Charity in a move that prevented Sandusky’s victims from using Second Mile’s assets to recover compensation.
The Perversion of Justice series has been championed by politicians in Washington DC who are known for their rampant dislike of Trump. Leading this charge has been Senator Ben Sasse, a prominent Trump critic. Sasse’s sudden concern over the Epstein case is ironic considering that he was one of many who “missed” the behavior of ex-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who was tied to a wide-ranging trafficking network which he was reportedly involved with even while serving as a politician.
The end goal of the Herald’s reports appear to be a simple attempt to discredit and injure Donald Trump, who appointed Alex Acosta to serve as his Secretary of Labor. This is not the first time that the Herald has attempted to connect Trump, even tangentially, to a sex scandal. In March 2019 the Miami Herald ran a report leading the charge in publicizing what appeared to be the efforts of a madam in a Chinese-connected money laundering and human trafficking to approach the Trump family and other GOP figures. The fact that the madam had no personal or professional connection to Trump was buried deep within the body of the article beneath a lurid headline. This apparent attack by the Herald was sabotaged once it emerged that a counterintelligence investigation had been opened into potential intelligence infiltration attempts targeting Trump and his Mar-a-Lago property.
This behavioral trend shows that the Herald is simply interested in spurring governmental changes while not actually remedying the miscarriage of justice that has allowed Epstein to get off with unbelievably lenient punishment.
IV. Is Cernovich’s Motive, In Fact, Improper?
While Dershowitz and the Miami Herald both have their own colored reasons for involving themselves in Giuffre v. Maxwell, what does Cernovich’s own behavior imply?
Cernovich has made a number of strange statements during the case that extend beyond his apparent attempts to misrepresent the Miami Herald’s involvement in the case. A theme from Cernovich is a hyperfocus on speculation that the protective order imposed by the court in Giuffre v. Maxwell was “bizarre” or part of a national security issue. These claims were repeated as recently as March 25, 2019 in an interview with YouTuber Stefan Molyneux. But as the court clearly stated in their opinion denying Cernovich’s motion to unseal, the refusal was based on case law that protects documents in legal proceedings when their release would “gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.”
Because Cernovich explicitly sought Maxwell’s motion for summary judgement, the content he would have acquired would solely be prejudiced information on the injured victims in the Epstein case. The fact that Alan Dershowitz joined Cernovich’s appeal appears to confirm the allegations made by Giuffre’s lawyers about the similar effect their attempts to unseal records would have. As a licensed attorney, Cernovich knows or should know that he is providing de facto assistance to Alan Dershowitz due to the nature of the records he seeks.
The appeal has seen two parties file briefs seeking to limit the release of personal information that could tie them to the Epstein affair. One, a Jane Doe, is a victim who wishes to protect themselves from fallout surrounding the case. In a post written about the appeal, Cernovich solely makes mention of the other party who he speculates a man who “probably partied with Jeff Epstein.” The victims never appear to have entered the equation.
Cernovich’s motive is also colored by what Giuffre’s attorneys have called a “prurient interest to fetishize rape” and his past association with an individual who is now themselves accused of child sex abuse. The response to Cernovich’s motion to unseal bears a number of tweets Cernovich made about topics relating to rape, including one where he stated that “date rape does not exist.”
There is also the matter of past criminal accusations. Cernovich was himself accused of rape in 2003. He escaped those charges for a conviction for misdemeanor battery which was expunged after performance of community service. Battery is generally defined as an unlawful application of force to the person of another resulting in either bodily injury or an offensive touching.
In February 2019, pornography actress Mercedes Carrera, real name Melinda Smith, was arrested along with her boyfriend and charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse. Officers also found drugs and guns in Smith’s home during the search. Smith, who was previously a fixture of the “Gamergate” affair, was referred to by Cernovich in a 2015 post to his blog Crime and Federalism as “intelligent” and “strong.” Although Cernovich appears to have wiped evidence of any social media interactions he may have had with Carrera, archives of her account show a long history of responses to Cernovich’s tweets. This association and the failure to make a public statement on the story once Smith’s alleged criminal behavior emerged casts doubt on Cernovich. This doubt could influence opinions about his reasons for involving himself in the Epstein case.
A Harvard study called Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics identifies Cernovich as a central figure that spread information during Pizzagate. One of the ways in which Cernovich promoted disinformation during this event was to conflate incidents such as the Laura Silsby affair to the Epstein scandal without any evidence whatsoever. This kind of irresponsible reporting has long been part of Cernovich’s “journalistic” style.
This long history indicates that Cernovich’s motive to involve himself in the Epstein case at best stems from a desire to whip up an already widely reported public scandal for personal benefit at the expense of the victims. At worst, he is knowingly acting as a proxy for Alan Dershowitz, whom Cernovich had an existing relationship with prior to his involvement in Giuffre v. Maxwell, to attack Epstein’s victims.
Cernovich makes much of the injustice surrounding the Epstein case. Will he feel the same way when alternative media holds him to the same level of scrutiny?