Supreme Court, New York County (October 6, 2023) – The Hon. Arthur F. Engoron of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County issued an order dismissing the lawsuit filed against Virginia Giuffre, an identified victim of sex trafficking by Jeffrey Epstein. This is a big win for survivors of human trafficking. Giuffre is represented by attorneys Kat Thomas of Thomas Legal Counselors at Law, LLC and Jill Roth of Laffey, Bucci & Kent.
In 2021, Rina Oh sued Giuffre in a separate case in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, based on comments made on social media. In response, Giuffre filed a claim under the New York Civil Rights § 76-a(1)(a) “strategic lawsuit against public participation” or “Anti-SLAPP” Laws against Oh. The Anti-SLAPP laws were enacted by the New York legislature to prevent lawsuits that are filed for the sole purpose of intimidation, harassment, and/or punishment. Oh counter-sued under the Adult Survivors Act claiming that she was sexually assaulted by Giuffre.
On September 29, 2023, Judge Engoron applied the 2021 New York State Survivors of Trafficking Attaining Relief Together Act (the START Act) to determine that Giuffre was incapable of committing the sexual offenses that Oh alleged Giuffre committed.
It states that the “[START Act] was enacted in recognition of the dynamic that victims of human trafficking lack agency over their actions and therefore should not be unduly punished for acts committed under the coercive control of their exploiter.”
The Court determined that Giuffre is “undisputedly the victim of Epstein’s sex trafficking” citing the US Attorney’s Office letter determination that Giuffre was a victim of human trafficking. Therefore, by law, Giuffre did not have the agency and autonomy to commit sexual offenses while under the power and control of Jeffrey Epstein.
The Order states, “For this Court to hold otherwise and to use the ASA to find that plaintiff, a victim herself, was capable of being liable for the crimes alleged by defendant, would be contrary not only to the plain language of the statutes, but to the spirit and legislative intent of the START Act and, arguably, the ASA.”