(NEW YORK) — The next batch of documents pertaining to late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have been released.
The latest batch is about half the number released on Wednesday night when the courts dropped around 40 documents, which consisted of hundreds of pages of testimony and legal filings.
According to a document unsealed Thursday, attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell suggested a reporter for a British tabloid helped Virginia Giuffre sensationalize stories about her alleged sexual encounters with famous men to make her account more marketable to publishers.
The document is included in a second tranche of court records related to Epstein, the sex offender who died by suicide in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. The records are part of a defamation lawsuit Giuffre, an alleged Epstein victim, brought against Maxwell that the two settled in 2017.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought in an unsuccessful effort in 2016 to depose the reporter, Sharon Churcher, who first wrote about Giuffre’s accusations for the Mail on Sunday five years earlier, arguing New York’s reporter shield law did not apply because Churcher was more “friend and advisor” than journalist.
“In that role, she helped manufacture some of the stories that have been denied and that are the central issues in this case,” Maxwell’s attorneys wrote in the now-unsealed motion. “She was actively and personally involved in changing those stories over time and in the creation and addition of new salacious details about public figures.”
Ultimately a judge quashed the subpoena, but Maxwell’s legal team suggested Giuffre’s emails with Churcher supported her assertion that the pair worked together to concoct stories about Giuffre being forced to have sex with Prince Andrew. They point out that in the first article Churcher wrote in early 2011 “there was no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.”
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and claimed he could not recall ever meeting Giuffre. He later settled a lawsuit she filed against him.
Reached by phone late Thursday, Churcher said, “I’m a journalist. There was no conspiracy.”
She added, “Do we really think that the U.S. Government prosecuted Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell because of Sharon Churcher hatching a conspiracy? It’s absurd. If I were that creative I would be writing Agatha Christie style novels.”
Sigrid McCawley, Giuffre’s lawyer, told ABC News in a statement, “For years, and as if their lives depended upon it, Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein led a relentless effort to discredit my client, Virginia Giuffre. But the passage of time and the facts, which have survived subsequent and substantial examination and scrutiny, have proven that the information Virginia provided about being trafficked as a young girl by Maxwell and Epstein is true.”
In 2011, the documents showed Giuffre was talking to Churcher about an article Vanity Fair was writing about Prince Andrew and sought advice about selling the now-notorious photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around her.
“What do you think a good price to sell this to VF should be?” Giuffre wrote in an email to Churcher.
In another email, Giuffre made the unsubstantiated claim former President Bill Clinton had previously threatened the magazine about Epstein.
“When I was doing some research into VF yesterday, it does concern me what they could want to write about me considering that B Clinton walked into VF and threatened them not to write sex-trafficking,” the email said.
Those involved have long denied this claim and Vanity Fair’s editor at the time told the Telegraph in a statement published Thursday, “This categorically did not happen.”
Giuffre has not accused Clinton of wrongdoing in regard to Epstein’s sex crimes. After Epstein’s arrest in 2019, Clinton’s spokesman denied that Clinton knew about Epstein’s crimes, denied Clinton was ever on Epstein’s private island and said the former president had not communicated with Epstein in more than a decade.
Churcher said in response to the subpoena request that she had reported extensively on Giuffre (then known as Virginia Roberts), Jeffrey Epstein and his ties to Prince Andrew, according to a 2016 filing that was not sealed.
“At all times that I was communicating with her (or her agents), I was acting in my capacity as a journalist with Ms. Roberts (or her agents) as my sources, always with the ultimate goal of gathering information to disseminate to the public as news,” Churcher said.
Maxwell is serving a 20-year prison sentence after she was convicted in 2021 of aiding Epstein’s sex trafficking of young women and girls. Her appeal will be heard in March.
Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.