Jeffrey Epstein Court Documents Unsealed, Shedding Light on His Misdeeds


Hundreds of pages of previously sealed court documents related to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and registered sex offender, were made public Wednesday — but as most legal experts familiar with the sordid affair had surmised, there was no smoking gun list of famous men who had sought to have sex with young women and teen girls.

The documents, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, appeared to add a bit more context to the relationships that Mr. Epstein had maintained over the years with powerful men, such as the former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump and a member of the British royalty, Prince Andrew.

But they provided little, if any, new fodder for conspiracy theorists who remain fixated on Mr. Epstein’s dealings more than four years after his death.

The 45 court documents made public on Wednesday were part of a lawsuit brought against Mr. Epstein by one of his victims. The documents were previously sealed or redacted to hide the names of more than 100 victims, associates or friends of Mr. Epstein, all given the designation “J. Doe” and a unique identifying number.

But the judge overseeing the case, Loretta A. Preska, who last month ordered the materials unsealed, noted that most of the names had already been disclosed publicly in other lawsuits or in news reports.

Most of the documents made public on Wednesday do not include specific episodes of wrongdoing by men other than Mr. Epstein, who was found dead at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.

But one of the great curiosities of Mr. Epstein is how a high school dropout could amass a fortune worth $600 million and become friends with an array of politicians, celebrities, academics and wealthy men. And while the documents do not answer that question, they reveal the easygoing nature he seemed to share with his associates.

Among the documents unsealed on Wednesday was an extensive May 2016 deposition taken of Johanna Sjoberg, one of Mr. Epstein’s alleged victims, who said she was around Mr. Epstein from 2001 to 2006. She was asked whether Mr. Epstein ever talked to her about Mr. Clinton during that time.

“He said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls,” Ms. Sjoberg testified. She also said that while flying with Mr. Epstein on one of his planes, they made an unplanned stop in Atlantic City, N.J.

“Jeffrey said, ‘Great, we’ll call up Trump,’” Ms. Sjoberg testified, adding that Mr. Epstein suggested that they visit Mr. Trump’s casino.

As for Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, Ms. Sjoberg testified that when she was first introduced to him, he “put his hand on my breast.”

Most of the famous people linked with Mr. Epstein have said that they were not aware of his abusive behavior with teenage girls or young women.

Mr. Clinton, 77, issued a statement in 2019 saying that he knew nothing about Mr. Epstein’s “terrible crimes.” Mr. Clinton has never been accused of any wrongdoing related to Mr. Epstein; and he did not object to the unsealing of the documents that mention him, a spokesman said Wednesday evening. Mr. Trump, 77, has said he had a “falling out” with Mr. Epstein years ago and “was not a fan.”

In all, Judge Preska ordered the unsealing of more than 200 documents, the remainder of which are expected to be released over the next few days after they are reviewed by lawyers involved in the litigation.

The materials largely comprise legal motions and excerpts from depositions given by accusers who describe in detail how Mr. Epstein had sexually abused them, including by forcing them to masturbate him during massages.

Judge Preska said in her order that the documents, for the most part, did not include salacious material about individuals other than Mr. Epstein.

In explaining her decisions to unseal the documents, Judge Preska noted a number of cases in which a particular “Doe” had not raised an objection to having their name released.

But in other cases, she ordered that confidentiality be maintained.

“Doe 16 is an alleged minor victim of sexual abuse who has not spoken publicly and who has maintained his or her privacy,” Judge Preska wrote in one case. “As such, the public interest does not outweigh the privacy interests,” she added.

The documents were originally filed as part of a defamation lawsuit brought in 2015 by Virginia Giuffre, a victim of Mr. Epstein’s, against Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein associate who in 2021 was convicted of conspiring with him in his sex-trafficking operation. Ms. Maxwell is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

In 2022, Ms. Giuffre and Prince Andrew reached a settlement in a separate lawsuit in which she claimed he had sexually abused her when she was 17.

Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Ms. Giuffre, said the unsealing of documents would allow the public to learn “more about the scale and scope of Epstein’s racket” and how he managed to get away with it for so long.

One of the documents unsealed Wednesday includes an email Mr. Epstein sent to Ms. Maxwell in January 2015 in which he told her to “issue a reward to any of Virginia’s friends” who will “come forward and help prove her allegations are false.”

Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell settled the lawsuit shortly before it was to go to trial in 2017. The Miami Herald and other media outlets asked the judge overseeing the case, Robert W. Sweet, to have the case documents unsealed, but he denied the request. In 2019, though, a three-judge federal appeals court panel unsealed about 2,000 pages of materials and returned the case to the district court, where Judge Preska was assigned to oversee a process that has led to further document releases.

The documents’ being unsealed, however, tells just a small part of the Epstein story, which lasted more than two decades.

Most of the documents being unsealed involve testimony from women who were victimized by Mr. Epstein from the 1990s up until his 2008 conviction in Florida on a charge of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. But Mr. Epstein is said to have continued to abuse women after serving that sentence and being required to register as a sex offender.

Last year, documents about the role of JPMorgan Chase in helping to finance Mr. Epstein’s activities were released in the course of litigation against the bank filed on behalf of his many victims. In a settlement last year, JPMorgan, the nation’s biggest bank, agreed to resolve the class-action lawsuit with $290 million, which is expected to deliver payouts to nearly 200 women.



Source link

Leave a Comment