Jeffrey "Jeff" Herman (born 1959) is an American trial lawyer who specializes in representing victims of sexual abuse. He is most noted for exposing the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Miami and the Archdiocese of Denver. Herman is also noted for his landmark $100 million verdict on behalf of a client who was sexually abused by Rev. Neil Doherty, one of the largest verdicts ever against an individual priest.
Said to be driven by his commitment to break the silence on child sexual abuse, Jeff consistently represents alleged victims of abuse. For over a decade, Herman has made national headlines exposing sexual predators and the institutions that protect them. He has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, People, and New York magazine and is a contributor to The O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC, and CNN. Herman has been recognized for his unique child forensic interviewing technique and he trains professionals from various child welfare organizations on how to help sexually abused children heal through disclosure.
While on MSNBC discussing the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, Herman coined the term "pedophile speak", describing the way pedophiles talk about and justify abusing children. While discussing the sexual abuse lawsuits he filed against Kevin Clash, Herman told The Baltimore Sun it has been his goal to "listen to sexual abuse victims and give them a voice." In an op-ed piece for Reuters about bringing down powerful men accused of rape, Herman said the role of the internet in sexual abuse cases is changing and it can play a positive, equalizing role enabling victims to come forward and speak up in support of others. Herman is the founding and managing partner of Herman Law.
According to the Miami New Times, "Herman is the country's leading attorney when it comes to handling high-profile sexual abuse lawsuits."
Herman earned his Juris Doctorate in 1985 from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and began practicing in Florida later that year. He had a successful practice as a commercial litigator before shifting exclusively to sexual abuse cases. Herman credited the shift to a search for meaning that has been fulfilled by seeking justice for victims of abuse.
Herman first gained national attention by representing victims of clergy sexual abuse in over 100 cases against the Archdiocese of Miami. In 2003, he represented the victim in the first sexual abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami allowed to go to trial. For years, the Catholic Church was able to have sexual abuse cases dismissed on statute of limitations technicalities. Herman became one of the first attorneys to successfully defeat this strategy- arguing that the archdiocese committed fraud by keeping a priest's sexual abuse history secret.
In 2011, Herman won a $100 million verdict for a victim of Father Neil Doherty, a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami accused of drugging and raping church youths. The result was the nation's largest jury verdict for a sexual abuse case in 2011 and one of the year's top 20 verdicts overall. In 2014, Herman won a $5.25 million verdict for a boy in a sexual abuse lawsuit against Charter Schools USA. The verdict is believed to be among the highest ever in a charter school sexual abuse case.In 2004, Herman represented the victims of Rev. Alvaro Guichard, a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing four children in the 1970s. Guichard unexpectedly crashed a news conference held by Herman and the family of one of Guichard's deceased victims following the filing of the lawsuit. The priest confronted the family, calling them liars and while grabbing the brother of the victim's arm. Herman was able to pull Guichard off of the brother just before police arrived on the scene. Following the incident, Guichard filed a suit against Herman, claiming he defamed him when he accused him of rape and sodomy. In 2012, the defamation suit was dismissed by the Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
In 2006, Herman represented an alleged victim of Anthony Mercieca, the priest accused of molesting U.S. congressman Mark Foley. The lawsuit alleged that Mercieca fondled and performed oral sex on the victim, who was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. James Church in North Miami. The suit sought $10 million in damages and settled in 2007 for an undisclosed amount.
In 2006, Herman represented the victims of Rabbi Joel Kolko, who was accused of molesting multiple young students of his yeshiva. The case was the first lawsuit against a Jewish leader to be filed following the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.
In 2007, Herman represented the alleged victim of Don Walk, the former Miami Dolphins team chaplain. Walk allegedly took the boy to Dolphins games, introduced him to players, and brought him to the house of coach Don Shula while grooming the boy for abuse.
In 2008, Herman represented several teenage victims of billionaire investment banker Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was convicted of felony solicitation of prostitution and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution. Herman filed a civil suit alleging that the victims were as young as 14 years old when they were brought to Epstein's mansion to perform erotic massages. The suit sought $50 million in damages and eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
In 2012, Herman – along with attorneys Adam Horowitz and Arick Fudali – won a $3 million jury verdict on behalf of a young girl who was sexually abused at Discovery Day Care. Testimony showed that the preschooler was abused on multiple occasions by the day care director's 13-year-old son and that a center employee falsified documents related to the incident.
In 2012 and 2013, Jeff Herman represented five alleged victims of Elmo puppeteer, Kevin Clash. On November 20, 2012, Herman filed a lawsuit alleging that Clash sexually abused a 15-year-old boy he met on a gay phone chatline. Clash publicly resigned from Sesame Street later that day.
In 2014, Herman won a $5.25 million lawsuit for a boy who alleged he was sexually abused repeatedly by an older boy at Downtown Miami Charter School. The verdict is believed to be the largest ever in a charter school sexual abuse case.
In 2014, Herman filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former child model and actor against X-Men director, Bryan Singer. The plaintiff, Michael Egan, accused Singer of repeatedly drugging, threatening and forcibly sodomizing him in the late 1990s, beginning when the boy was 15 years old. "Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children. This is the first of many cases I will be filing to give these victims a voice and to expose the issue," Herman said in a statement shortly after filing. Herman filed another series of law suits for three more Hollywood executives: former Fox television executive Garth Ancier, theater producer Gary Wayne Goddard and former television executive David A. Neuman. However, within months all four lawsuits were dropped after Egan's stories continued to change and the cases began to fall apart. Herman, who had dropped Egan as a client, later wrote letters of apology to Ancier and Neuman stating he had learned he made "untrue and proveably false allegations"; accompanying the letters were an undisclosed seven-figure sum. The following year, Egan was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to unrelated fraud charges.
In 2013, Jeff Herman was named "Child Advocate of the Year" by KidSafe Foundation during their 4th Annual Fundraiser.
Herman is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He has been referred to in the media as the "Dark Knight", fighting for the most vulnerable victims. Herman has also been referred to as the "legal eagle" and the "Go-To-Guy" for sexual abuse lawsuits.
Herman is a practicing Jew and father of four. He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio before attending the University of Arizona. He went on to Case Western Reserve University School of Law, earning his Juris Doctorate in 1985 while serving as the Editor of the Journal of International Law.
In 2008, The Miami Herald profiled Herman and reported on his greatest weakness: red meat. He has a favorite steakhouse in every city, never deviating from his order of a medium rare New York strip and a side salad. Herman is also an avid collector of wine and single malt scotch.The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel
Erin Burnett OutFront, CNN
The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer
The Ed Show, MSNBC
Evening Express, HLN
Dr. Drew On Call, HLN
Nancy Grace, HLN