In an indictment, federal prosecutors accused wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein of sex trafficking dozens of minors in two states between 2002 and 2005. Last month, he was charged with running a sex-trafficking operation in New York.
In 1973, Epstein worked as a math and physics teacher at Manhattan’s private Dalton School. Epstein left the school after a student’s father urged him to pursue a career on Wall Street, according to Vanity Fair. After working for Bear Stearns, he decided to open his own company, J. Epstein & Co. which manages the money of individuals with a $1 billion or more. Leslie Wexner, chairman of L Brands ― which includes Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works― is the company’s only confirmed client.
In 2015, Virginia Roberts said in a sworn affidavit that she was brought to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, where she claimed Epstein abused her beginning in 1999, when she was 15 years old. Roberts said the abuse continued for several years, during which she says she was passed around to other famous men. Epstein allegedly raped Jennifer Araoz at age 14 in his New York mansion in 2002.
Interestingly enough, he was associated with many powerful men. Wexner described his friendship with Epstein as “special” while former president Bill Clinton took multiple trips on the financier’s private jet. President Trump called him a “terrific guy” in 2002, during an interview with New York Magazine. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” he said. However, recently Trump claims he “was not a fan” of Epstein.
For a long time, he faced suspicion of molesting girls and narrowly avoided criminal charges in 2008 during a Palm Beach investigation. The investigation began in 2005 when a 14-year-old girl and her parents reported that Epstein molested her at a mansion in Palm Beach. She said a classmate had taken her to the house to give him a massage in exchange for money. The investigation later included five more victims.
A controversial plea deal negotiated by the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resulted in a measly 13 months in a private wing of a Palm Beach county jail. Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser charges of soliciting prostitution and also had to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, he was granted work release for 12 hours a day, six days a week, despite the fact that the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department prohibited work release for sex offenders.
The deal is called a “non-prosecution agreement,” which grants immunity to “any potential co-conspirators.” This means that if any of his powerful friends were involved in his crimes, they would not face consequences. Acosta agreed that the deal would be kept a secret from the victims, preventing them from showing up in court to try to challenge it.
On July 6, Epstein was arrested in New Jersey at Teterboro Airport after returning from a trip to Paris. This time, there would be no sweet deal to get him out of trouble. He was charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy in New York federal court. After his arrest, multiple women came forward with new allegations of sexual abuse against Epstein. Because the former charges were at the state level, there was no risk of double jeopardy.
According to the indictment, Epstein knowingly recruited girls as young as 14 to participate in sex acts at his Manhattan and Palm Beach homes. The document also states that “in order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused.” A search of his residence after the arrest revealed “an extraordinary volume of photographs of nude and partially-nude young women or girls” in a safe, prosecutors reported.
Epstein’s case did not end with the plea deal in 2008. The #MeToo movement has contributed to a wave of scrutiny against Epstein’s case. The movement against sexual harassment and assault forced the public to look more closely at how the criminal justice system treats powerful men. Similar to Bill Cosby and R. Kelly, Epstein’s crimes from years ago are being viewed in a new light. “While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, it is still profoundly important to the many alleged victims, now young women,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said during a press conference in July. An investigative report by Julie Brown of the Miami Herald also informed the public of the harrowing details of Epstein’s case. The report revealed over 80 women who were abused by Epstein. After mounting criticism, the Justice Department opened an internal investigation into its handling of Epstein’s case in February.
Epstein could have faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted for sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He pled not guilty to the charges. His case came to an abrupt end when he committed suicide in his jail cell on August 10.
Death and Conspiracy:
Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center with a bedsheet around his neck. The Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, Dr. Barbara Sampson, determined on August 16th that the cause of death was suicide by hanging. According to Dr. Sampson, she made this determination “after careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy report”. The autopsy reports are not public records in New York but it has been revealed that a bone in Epstein’s neck had been broken. Some suspect homicide but “experts” say that the specific bone in question is usually broken as the result of a suicidal hanging.
This sudden death began to gain suspicions as more details were revealed. Last month, on July 23rd, Epstein was found on the floor of his jail cell with bruises around his neck. At that time, he had been placed on suicide watch. Yet only a week after the incident, Epstein was taken off suicide watch and put back into a high-security housing unit. Though he wasn’t watched as carefully, it was still protocol to check on him every 30 minutes.
Initially, the guards assigned to Epstein’s unit were blamed for the suicide. Though protocol calls for the checks every half hour, an anonymous tip was provided stating that the guards did not follow this protocol. The tip also advised that the two guards were already working overtime due to staff shortages and it is suspected that they falsified their log entries to make it seem like they were checking every 30 minutes.
With the guards’ negligence in question, it took no time for a variety of conspiracy theories to arise on social media, including the idea that the death was faked to allow for his disappearance. It is known that Epstein had connections with princes, politicians and other famous and powerful people like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and even Prince Andrew. After he was first put on suicide watch, people suspected it was a murder attempt in order to silence him. A post on Twitter explained it best, “Men in high places want Epstein dead”. After his supposed suicide, #EpsteinMurder began trending worldwide on social media. Even more suspicions developed once it was revealed that Epstein signed his last will and testament on August 8th, just two days before his death. The will named his brother, Mark, as the sole heir to his $577 million assets.
According to Attorney General William Barr, the FBI and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General are investigating the incident. “Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered”. The FBI has already made attempts at gathering more information but interviews with staff members have been delayed by union representatives and others are refusing to cooperate with the investigators. In addition to the investigations, AG Barr has removed Hugh Hurwitz as acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the warden of MCC Lamine N’Siyae due to the incident. Both of them have been temporarily reassigned and the two guards that were in charge of Epstein’s unit were placed on leave.
Epstein’s lawyers have spoken out about the suicide and the findings so far. They have advised that they are “not satisfied” with Sampson’s conclusion and will also be conduction their own investigation fo the matter. Their hope is that they can obtain video footage leading up to Epstein’s death of the area around his jail cell. They are also criticized the facility for allowing this to happen. The considered the conditions of the unit to be “harsh, even medieval” and have no doubt that the staff violated protocols.
Epstein’s death certificate was filed on August 19th at a court in the US Virgin Islands and it states that his remains are located at a funeral home at a Madison Ave address.
We will continue to follow this story and provide updates as it progresses.