Defamation lawsuits involving U.S. lawyer Dershowitz end in settlement

By David Ingram (Reuters) - Prominent U.S. lawyer Alan Dershowitz and two victims' rights attorneys on Friday withdrew claims from a Florida court that they defamed each other during a legal fight about a woman who said she was trafficked for sex as an underage girl. "The parties believe it is time to take advantage of the new information that has come to light on both sides during the litigation and put these matters behind them," the three lawyers said in a joint statement on Friday. The defamation lawsuits stemmed from claims that the woman, Virginia Giuffre, made in another court in December 2014 that she was forced as a girl to have sex with Dershowitz, the UK's Prince Andrew, and other men. Dershowitz and Prince Andrew denied the allegations, and the allegations were later stricken from court records. Giuffre was not a party to the defamation lawsuits or the settlement. A spokesman for the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, separate lawyers for her, said in a statement on Friday that she stands by her accusations. Two of Giuffre's attorneys, Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell, had sued Dershowitz for defamation in a Broward County, Florida, state court after Dershowitz accused them of acting unethically. Dershowitz counter-sued. As part of a settlement on Friday, Dershowitz withdrew his accusation that they acted unethically, and Edwards and Cassell said it was a mistake to have filed the accusations against Dershowitz. They added in a separate court filing on Friday that their mistake was tactical and that Giuffre stood by the accusations. "Dershowitz completely denies any such misconduct, while not disputing Roberts’s [Giuffre] statements that the underlying alleged misconduct may have occurred with someone else," the three lawyers said in the statement. "Dershowitz has produced travel and other records for the relevant times which he relies on to establish that he could not have been present when the alleged misconduct occurred. He has also produced other evidence that he relies upon to refute the credibility of the allegations against him," they said. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, may be best known for helping to successfully defend OJ Simpson against murder charges. Former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh, whom Dershowitz hired to investigate Giuffre's accusations, said he found no evidence to support them and had found evidence directly contradicting them. "In my opinion, the totality of the evidence found during the investigation refutes the allegations made against Professor Dershowitz," Freeh said in a statement. (Reporting by David Ingram in New York)