Bloomberg Law
March 20, 2019, 6:19 PM

Epstein Case Shadowed by Anonymous Requests to Conceal Documents

Chris Opfer
Chris Opfer

Shortly before a federal appeals court in New York was set to open records that could illuminate the controversial sex trafficking case against hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, a pair of anonymous people stepped in to ask the judges to keep some of the information sealed.

Lawyers for two unnamed people yesterday filed motions to intervene in the debate over whether to open records in a federal defamation lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims. They also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to redact any names and personal identifying information which concern Giuffre’s claims that Epstein and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell recruited her into a forced sex ring at Epstein’s home in Florida when Giuffre was a minor.

The requests add yet another layer of intrigue to the decade-old case against Epstein and the growing criticism of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. The former lead federal prosecutor for South Florida signed off on a plea deal that allowed Epstein to serve 13 months in state prison and avoid prosecution for more serious federal offenses.

It’s not clear what, if any, role the two anonymous filers played in Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking scheme. Prosecutors identified more than 30 possible victims, at least one of whom was as young as 13 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

The redaction of certain information is necessary “to protect third persons whose privacy and reputations are jeopardized by the release and publication of unadjudicated allegations,” Nicholas Lewin, a New York criminal defense lawyer representing one of the anonymous people, identified as “John Doe,” told the court. Lewin said his client is “not aware of any legal proceeding or law enforcement reports in which Giuffre identified” Doe “as a co-conspirator of Epstein or a person with whom she had sexual relations.”

Kerrie Campbell, a “crisis management” and sex discrimination lawyer represents the other anonymous filer, identified as “J. Doe.”

Campbell didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment. Lewin declined to comment.

The secrecy surrounding Epstein’s plea deal—it wasn’t disclosed to many of his accusers until after it was approved and it remains under seal—and the identities of two of Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators who were also part of the agreement has fueled public speculation about what information might be in closed court documents. The Second Circuit signaled earlier this month that it would begin opening some of the documents in the Giuffre case as soon as March 19.

Acosta Criticism

Court battles related to the Epstein case and a new Justice Department investigation into the plea deal have turned up the heat on Acosta, who was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time.

Acosta has said through a DOL spokeswoman that prosecutors felt like they got the best result in a complicated case and noted that the DOJ has defended the attorneys across three presidential administrations. He’s also previously said that prosecutors were subjected to “a year-long assault” from Epstein’s all-star defense team.

But Florida federal Judge Kenneth Marra ruled Feb. 21 that Acosta and the other prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by entering the agreement without telling the alleged victims and “misleading” them to believe that Epstein may still be prosecuted in federal court. The law gives alleged victims broad rights to be involved in and “reasonably heard” during legal proceedings.

A handful of Democrats and progressive groups have called for Acosta to resign, but labor unions, Democratic leaders, and others appear to be waiting for the litigation and DOJ probe to play out. They’re concerned that Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella likely would take a more aggressive anti-union stance if he were to replace Acosta.

President Donald Trump and White house officials are so far publicly standing by Acosta, whom Trump recently called “a fantastic labor secretary.”

The Epstein saga has been the subject of swirling public attention following a November Miami Herald report detailing the allegations and the plea deal.

Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after Maxwell accused Giuffre of lying about being raped by Epstein. The case was eventually settled, but the Miami Herald intervened to ask the court to unseal a wide range of deposition testimony and other documents related to the claims. That includes deposition testimony, motions, exhibits, and court decisions in the defamation case, which turned on whether Giuffre’s allegations are true.

Dershowitz, who was part of Epstein’s legal defense team, also wants the documents opened. He says they will show that Giuffre lied when she claimed that Epstein directed her to have sex with Dershowitz.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at; Terence Hyland at