young women who claim he paid them for sex when some were as young as 14 years old.
Attorney Jack Scarola, who is representing Edwards, said his client was compelled to divulge the confidential settlements to answer questions posed by Epstein’s attorneys. “Brilliant move on their part,” he said.
Even if Epstein’s attorneys hadn’t opened the door, Scarola said the information likely would have come out.
He says the information will help him undermine Epstein’s claims that Edwards “ginned up” the allegations to help his former law partner, imprisoned and disbarred Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein, perpetuate a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
The revelations of the settlements came as part of an ongoing lawsuit that started as a dispute between Epstein and Rothstein, both billionaires.
In 2008 Epstein pleaded guilty to solicitation of prostitution and procuring a minor for prostitution, and a year later he sued Rothstein and Edwards, claiming they trumped up the allegations of sexual molestation to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme.
Rothstein was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2010 after admitting he had built his wildly successful law firm by forging the names of federal judges and others to persuade investors he had negotiated settlements in lawsuits against high-profile people. Investors were told they could get a cut of the cash.
One of the high-profile people Rothstein used to lure investors was Epstein, according to a lawsuit West Palm Beach attorney Robert Critton filed on Epstein’s behalf. According to the lawsuit, Rothstein told investors that Epstein, a money manager, had agreed to settle the lawsuits with the teens for $200 million — a claim Critton called “a “complete fabrication.”
After Epstein dropped the lawsuit in 2012, Edwards turned the tables on him. Edwards accused Epstein of filing the lawsuit maliciously to punish him for representing the young women.
Although Edwards was a partner in Rothstein’s now-defunct firm, Scarola claims Epstein had no evidence Edwards was involved in the Ponzi scheme. Federal prosecutors successfully charged other attorneys and members of the firm, but Edwards never was implicated, Scarola said in the malicious-prosecution suit.
The revelations about the money Epstein paid to three of the young women came last week in documents filed for a hearing Tuesday in preparation for a December trial on the lawsuit.
Attorney Tonja Haddad Coleman, who represents Epstein, on Tuesday sought a delay of the trial, in part, because she claimed she has been unable to talk to her client since his estate on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands was devastated last month by Hurricane Irma. “I’ve had no ability to communicate with Mr. Epstein,” she said.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele rejected her request, saying Coleman offered no proof.
Still, Hafele gave Coleman extra time to respond to various motions that he will have to decide before the case goes to trial.
Despite Scarola’s insistence that Edwards had nothing to do with Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme, Coleman said the evidence indicates otherwise, asking why else he would try to depose Epstein’s well known friends, such as President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and illusionist David Copperfield.
Edwards’ malicious prosecution case has been difficult for both sides because both Epstein and Edwards have refused to answer questions. As he did in the civil lawsuits, Epstein has invoked the Fifth Amendment. Edwards has claimed that much of the information Epstein is seeking is protected by attorney-client privilege.
The malicious-prosecution lawsuit is one of two hotly contested lawsuits that continue to pit Edwards against Epstein. Edwards also is suing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, claiming it violated the federal Crime Victims Rights Act when it negotiated a nonprosecution agreement with Epstein.
Only after federal prosecutors agreed to drop their investigation of Epstein did he agree to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
In federal court records, prosecutors claim one of the key reasons they agreed to drop their case was Epstein’s agreement to settle lawsuits filed against him by dozens of his underage victims.