Shmuley Boteach’s Sloppy Defense of Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz (photo by Sage Ross) GNU License

Alan Dershowitz (photo by Sage Ross) GNU License

Highly regarded celebrities get automatic immunity from serious allegations. Consider Alan Dershowitz. He is accused of criminal sexual acts with an underage girl. Dershowitz is aggressively countering the charges. The outcome remains to be determined.

Scott Greenfield writes:

Up to now, the only sort of whore accusation ever leveled at [the] former Harvard lawprof was always paired with the word “media,” and nobody got terribly bent out of shape about it.  But the accusations leveled by Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell (yes, that Paul Cassell) take it in a direction that few would have ever imagined. While I’m no big fan of the Dersh, never would I have imagined something like this:

Epstein also sexually trafficked the then-minor Jane Doe, making her available for sex to politically-connected and financially-powerful people. Epstein’s purposes in “lending” Jane Doe (along with other young girls) to such powerful people were to ingratiate himself with them for business, personal, political, and financial gain, as well as to obtain potential blackmail information.

One such powerful individual that Epstein forced then-minor Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with was former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a close friend of Epstein’s and well-known criminal defense attorney. Epstein required Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with Dershowitz on numerous occasions while she was a minor, not only in Florida but also on private planes, in New York, New Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to being a participant in the abuse of Jane Doe #3 and other minors, Deshowitz was an eye-witness to the sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein’s co-conspirators. Dershowitz would later play a significant role in negotiating the NPA on Epstein’s behalf. Indeed, Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement that provided immunity from federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida not only to Epstein, but also to “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.” NPA at 5. Thus, Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement with a provision that provided protection for himself against criminal prosecution in Florida for sexually abusing Jane Doe #3. Because this broad immunity would have been controversial if disclosed, Dershowitz (along with other members of Epstein’s defense team) and the Government tried to keep the immunity provision secret from all of Epstein’s victims and the general public, even though such secrecy violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

Dershowitz is mounting a powerful counterattack including a affidavit (being circulated in an unsigned draft)and the threat to move to disbar the attorneys whose court motions contain these allegations.

psychic Uri Geller, singer/dancer Michael Jackson, publicity hound R Shmuley Boteach

psychic Uri Geller, singer/dancer Michael Jackson, publicity hound R Shmuley Boteach

What interests me is Shmuley Boteach’s absurd and inconsistent arguments in his article, Where are the Jews to Defend Alan Dershowitz?” Boteach goes on an on about how Dershowitz is such a staunch defender of Israel. He writes,

Now come the scurrilous and downright weird accusations that Mr. Dershowitz and Prince Andrew engaged in under-age sex with a woman tied to a once-jailed financier……. There is no way any of us can know if any of this is true…… We are all mindful of women who are victims of sexual crimes and they must, of course, be protected. But the reputations of individuals who have devoted their lives to the greater good deserve consideration as well……

I would like to believe that, at the very least, what Alan Dershowitz deserves is the gratitude of his community. And that means that you stand up for a man when he is down, especially when not a shred of evidence has been brought against him.

Baruch Lebovits mugshot for sex offender registry 9-29-14According to the Wall Street Journal, Dershowitz claims “They made up this story out of whole cloth. I’m an innocent victim of an extortion conspiracy.” He used that line before to defend Baruch Lebovits. In that effort he was co-chaired by the corrupt office of the Brooklyn district attorney, which arrested Sam Kellner on shoddy evidence that came from the Lebovits camp. In the end the charges against Kellner were dismissed and Lebovits pled guilty to eight felony counts of oral sex with a minor.

I trust Dershowitz will do a good job of defending himself whether or not the charges are true. I see no need for Boteach to corral the rest of us into unquestioning defense of Dershowitz, a man with outsized legal talents, an oversized ego and over-the-top chutzpah.

But, Shmuley, How can you write an article with these utterly contradictory statements?

  • There is no way any of us can know if any of this is true.
  • Alan Dershowitz deserves … the gratitude of his community. And that means that you stand up for a man when he is down.

You are saying that we rise to deflect a claim even if we don’t know if it is true. Boteach, with your hunger for celebrity connections you are converting a  personal friendship into more than an alibi. You are now maintaining that celebrities who defend Israel must be defended from allegations. It is precisely that sort of flawed thinking that allows guilty celebrities to escape consequences.

Shame on you Shmuley Boteach, though I doubt you are capable of experiencing shame. At least stop pretending “we cannot know if these allegations are true.”  If you believe that, you will express your hope that they turn out to be unfounded but you will not demand we rally to his defense. I don’t know what you actually believe, but you are arguing that his service in defending the Israeli government automatically makes him innocent. By the way, Shmuley, is Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav, also innocent of the rape for which he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail?



17 thoughts on “Shmuley Boteach’s Sloppy Defense of Alan Dershowitz

  1. I heard nothing about this,.until now.
    The Dersh has a debt to “society” to pay, re the Leibovits/Kellner affair-fiasco.
    If these charges are true, I will really qvell. Dersh owes big time. really big time.
    His morality/ethics are in the gutter, and he has gotten away with his power too long.. I actually do hope he is guilty. This is not something, that I, on the face of it, would ever state, stam kacha, but i’ve been harboring fury since, re the Leibovitz/Kellner fiasco. I want Dersh douched—ooops, sentenced if he is guilty.
    Yes, I know, we are not supposed to harbor grievances. I will beat my chest, after he is found guilty. Amen.

      • Even if they are not true .. maybe his justice is simply to have people believe it could be true .. drag his name in the mud .. you know .. feel what it is like when an “innocent” man gets dragged through the mud and set up for other people’s infractions.

  2. In my new book I spend some time analyzing a “casually enunciated double standard” under which, according to influential rabbis, pious Jews are supposed to favor a rabbi charged with abuse over an “ordinary” accuser — let alone a child — even if the accuser presents credible evidence to support his or her story.

    Boteach’s defense of Dershowitz illustrates, even better than I could, the corrupt underpinnings of this idea. It isn’t about religious “values” at all but about being on the right side of power. It doesn’t matter that Dershowitz has spent the better part of his professional life supporting war crimes, defending torture, rationalizing ethnic cleansing, etc. What matters is that he lined up with the right people — the ones our leadership wants us to follow — and, to Boteach, that entitles him to blanket immunity when accused of sex abuse (by a mere woman, no less). Even if you can accept Dershowitz’s flacking for Israel as morally right, what has it got to do with the merits of the charge? And clearly Boteach doesn’t know whether it’s right or wrong: all that matters to him is that Dershowitz did it for The Home Team.

    To call this line of reasoning disgusting is an understatement. But for Orthodox Jews it’s also a challenge, because Boteach isn’t alone in advancing it. If we swallow the Boteach nostrum silently, we may as well say goodbye to a principled position on ANY sex abuse charge against ANY powerful person.

    Of course, I’m not saying that Dershowitz is guilty. We don’t know that. But we do know that the Boteach “defense” is not just no defense; it’s a shocking betrayal of elementary moral standards. And Boteach is betting that we won’t notice that, because the same approach has already been used by the Belskys and Rosenblums among us for far too long.

    • All her points about the allegations are valid. It would be foolish — and unfair — to dismiss them summarily. I repeat, though, that the argument I’m making about Boteach doesn’t depend on Dershowitz’s guilt. What I’m really objecting to is the notion of a sort of hierarchy of immunity that gives people favored by the community — that is, by its leadership — automatic insulation from accusations that would be taken much more seriously if leveled against someone else. That’s the Boteach line, and it fits into the rabbinic logic of cover-up and denial like a hand to a glove.

      Incidentally, I’m uncomfortable with the way conservative pundits are turning the recent Rolling Stone article on rape at UVa (where I was a student, by the way) into a cautionary tale of credulousness about rape allegations. It’s true that there are some factual inconsistencies in the details of the central story, and journalists must be careful in such matters. But no evidence at all suggests that the charges were fabricated — or, for that matter, atypical of things that have been going on for years in UVa’s fraternities. If the same standards these pundits apply to rape victims were used on, say, concentration camp survivors’ testimony, the pundits would be screaming “Holocaust denial.”

  3. It’s quite ironic that Boteach chooses to overlook Dershowitz’ early egal accomplishments. He made a name for himself when he defended a notorious pornographer, Harry Reems

  4. Frum is often quick to latch onto and hype any sexual allegation against any prominent Jew he disagrees with, and in this case throw in Boteach for an added bonus of smear-by-association.

    This set of postings on Dersh is proof central.

    Frum: not all abuse allegations are necessarily true and deserve hyping like you often do — you are fast becoming a muckraker of note, in the rolling stone, people magazine vein.

    • Elementary logic eludes you, Rosha as it seems to have eluded Boteach. I merely pointed out that defending the Israeli government is not proof that you are not a sexual criminal. The former President of Israel is sitting in jail for rape.

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