The secret truth about Jeff Herman, Hollywood’s leading sexual abuse attorney
Jeffrey Herman of Florida acts for Weinstein accuser Dominique Huett, but his own conduct has been subject to at least 12 civil cases, four IRS liens, two disciplinary procedures for dishonesty and shockingly, accusations of rape by his former receptionist.
When Time named the Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year 2017, it cemented the significance of a movement that continues to expose sexual harassment as an everyday menace. With Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as the most prominent abuser, the campaign has exposed despicable politicians, actors and businessmen among others. But with every sexual harassment claim voiced and defense publicized, some have questioned the motivations of some accusers and most importantly, their attorneys.
Make no mistake, sexual abuse allegations are very serious and people found guilty should pay a very heavy price, whether they are politicians, Hollywood celebrities or billionaire-turned President. Yet, this should not stop us from reporting on shrewd celebrities attorneys using the #MeToo movement for their benefits.
What if some claims are not only false, they are designed to blackmail or to raise the attorney’s profile?
Jeffrey Marc Herman is a 57-year-old attorney who lives in Florida and runs Herman Law with offices in Boca Raton and New York. Herman has built a reputation as a leading counsel in several high-profile sexual harassment cases — many of which were dismissed as false. Among them was Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, which were later dismissed, billionaire banker Jeffrey Epstein, Rabbi Joel Kolko and Reverend Alvaro Guichard. In total, Herman claims to have secured more than $200m in judgements and settlements, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He is currently representing actresses Kadian Noble and Dominique Huett, who are accusing Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
But looking at Herman’s career as a lawyer and the long list of civil cases that list him as a defendant, his motivation has been questioned.
In 2014, Herman represented an aspiring actor named Michael Egan, who accused television executives Garth Ancier and David Neuman as well as X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexual abuse. Egan’s initial suit alleged misconduct in Hawaii and Los Angeles between 1998 and 1999, but when his Hawaii case crumbled, after it emerged he had never left the continental US, he refiled the suit mentioning just Los Angeles. Herman defended Egan throughout and only apologized to the Hollywood figures when he lost the case. Ancier and Neuman counter-sued Herman alleging malicious prosecution, claiming this had been a “very public campaign by Mr Egan’s counsel to troll for new clients who would enable them to shake down other entertainment industry executives with threats or sexual assault charges”.
Why would Herman fish for new clients in Hollywood?
His civil cases give one possible answer: Herman was the debtor in four substantial federal tax liens between 2014 and 2017. The liens ranged from $246,570 (filed on March 7, 2017, and remains unsatisfied) to $911,972 (filed on April 9, 2014, satisfied around two years later).
Herman doesn’t just owe taxes: American Express Bank also filed a claim against him in Palm Beach on July 25, 2017, for credit due of $66,019, and First American Bank filed a case on August 17, 2016, for foreclosure action against his Boca Raton property.
More than a dozen other civil cases involve Herman, whose license to practice law in Florida was suspended for 18 months on February 19, 2009, for breaching his fiduciary duty to his client, Aero Controls, by hiring an Aero employee to start a competing business.
In 1998, Judge Marsh of the Oregon District Court sanctioned Herman permanently from his courtroom — an extraordinary sanction — following findings of alleged misrepresentations and other bad-faith conduct in relation to a lawsuit by Pacific Harbor Capital again Carnival Airlines and its attorneys, Herman and Mermelstein, as his law firm had been previously known.
Herman shifted the focus of his work from commercial to sexual assault following his unsuccessful career in the business world.
In an effort to survive in his new chosen field, Herman is keen to rekindle his reputation as an expert in sexual abuse cases, hoping the #MeToo campaign will encourage victims to call him.
But his representation of Egan, who was sentenced to two years in prison on fraud charges shortly after losing his case, casts doubt if not over Herman’s motivation to make money, then certainly over his people judgement.
Taking the matter of his reputation in his own hands, the attorney edited his now hagiographic Wikipedia page, which is forbidden by the website, in an attempt to sweep the Egan defense under the carpet. An investigation has found that the entire Egan chapter was deleted from Herman’s entry by an anonymous user with the IP address 220.127.116.11 on November 3, 2016 — whose host is Herman’s law firm mail.hermanlaw.com.
“Herman Law, a South Florida based law firm, is one of the nation’s leading Law Firms for survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation”
But most significant is a recent revelation by The Hollywood Reporter that Herman himself was once accused of raping the young receptionist at his law firm. The entertainment news organization has seen a detailed 58-page police report filed at Plantation, Florida, in 1998 detailing the allegations, which were never trialed, despite the police recommending prosecution.
In the police report, his former employee recalled her ordeal with the self-declared “sexual abuse lawyer”:
“After taking off his pants she stated that he put his head between her legs, and stated “I want to eat you out”… She said stop, and squirmed away… Once again she pushed away and told him that she wasn’t going to have sex with him… when she refused, he took her hand, and put it on his p****. At that time he said “just finish me off.””
When The Hollywood Reporter contacted Herman about the allegations, he paused significantly and at one point seemed to mumble: “Oh, crap.”