NATIONAL NEWS

With more records, world sees how Jeffrey Epstein leveraged powerful to abuse vulnerable girls

Jan 4, 2024, 10:23 AM | Updated: 5:18 pm

Image: Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a phot...

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference, in New York on July 2, 2020. (File photo: John Minchillo, AP)

(File photo: John Minchillo, AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — A new batch of unsealed documents pertaining to Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls was released Thursday, adding several hundred pages to a trove of information detailing how the financier leveraged connections to the rich, powerful and famous to recruit his victims and cover up his crimes.

The 19 documents, or about 300 pages, were half as many as the over 40 released Wednesday. The documents so far — with more to come — were sprinkled with names of celebrities and politicians who socialized with Epstein or worked with him in the years before he was publicly accused nearly two decades ago of paying underage girls for sex.

They also contained the accounts of some of Epstein’s young victims, many of whom were high school students who took payments of $200 to give him illicit massages.

The records being unsealed were part of a lawsuit filed by one of those victims, Virginia Giuffre, against Ghislaine Maxwell, who was Epstein’s former girlfriend, household manager and chief recruiter of young, vulnerable females. That lawsuit was settled in 2017, but documents in the case are still being released years later.

Most of the names in those records are familiar to anyone who has followed the scandal closely.

It was during Maxwell’s criminal trial two years ago that Epstein’s victims, some of whom aspired to be models or artists, described how he dropped the names of his famous and influential friends to suggest that he was the victims’ ticket to reaching their dreams. Maxwell, 62, was convicted of sex-trafficking charges and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Epstein killed himself in 2019 while he was awaiting trial on sex- trafficking charges. The roughly 250 documents being unsealed, starting this week, mostly rehash what has long been known about a man who traveled in elite circles until his arrest.

But they have included a few fresh details about a pyramid of abuse that grew over three decades and damaged dozens of teenage girls and young women.

The documents unsealed Thursday included an excerpt from the deposition of one those victims, a girl who was in high school when she went to his house, thinking she had been hired to give him a massage.

“I don’t recall exactly how I was propositioned to get there. I was just there, and all of a sudden something horrible happened to me,” she said, adding that Epstein removed her clothes without her consent the first time she met him.

She said she had worked “very, very hard” over the years to forget the details of her sexual encounters.

The victim, whose name remained sealed, said that a high school classmate had suggested the job to her. Later, she learned that girls who referred other girls to Epstein were paid kickbacks.

She herself brought other girls from her high school to Epstein’s house. None of them were her friends, she said.

“Sometimes I would go over and I would just swim and I would get paid, or I would take a nap and I’d get paid, or I would just hang out and I’d get paid,” she said. “It wasn’t my assumption that they were coming over to do anything. I did not know, once the door was closed or once they went to another area of the home. I often just went over and did my own thing while they were doing whatever they were doing. It was none of my business.”

Other documents released Thursday largely focused on legal squabbles over Giuffre’s lawsuit and her connection to a British tabloid reporter whom Maxwell’s lawyers accused of compelling her to fabricate some of her allegations.

Among the famous people in Epstein’s orbit before he was exposed as a sexual predator were former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, singer Michael Jackson and magician David Copperfield, according to the accounts of his victims and other witnesses quoted in newly released documents. None of those men were accused of wrongdoing.

There were also repetitions of well-known stories about Britain’s Prince Andrew. He was sued by Giuffre, who said she had sexual encounters with the royal when she was 17. The prince, who denied the allegations, settled the lawsuit in 2022.

Thousands of documents in Giuffre’s lawsuit against Maxwell had been made public previously, but some sections had been blacked out because of privacy concerns. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ordered last month that those redactions be lifted, mostly because names in the documents had already been made public through news coverage or through other court proceedings.

Clinton previously said through a spokesperson that although he traveled on Epstein’s jet several times, he never visited his homes, had no knowledge of his crimes, and hadn’t spoken to him since his conviction. Trump has also said he once thought Epstein was a “terrific guy,” but that they later had a falling-out.

While many of the people whose names appear in the court records aren’t accused of doing anything wrong, there are also many references to Jean-Luc Brunel, a French modeling agent who was close to Epstein and who killed himself in a Paris jail in 2022 while awaiting trial on charges that he raped underage girls. Giuffre was among the women who accused Brunel of sexual abuse.

Separately, Brunel’s estate was sued this week by a woman who alleges that he and others sexually assaulted her while she was working as a model in New York. She says that on one occasion, she was driven to a home in Canada and kept there for several days while men abused her. The lawsuit, filed in state court in California, does not mention Epstein or Maxwell.

More documents were expected to be released on Friday and Monday.

___

Associated Press Writers David B. Caruso and Jim Mustian contributed to this story.

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With more records, world sees how Jeffrey Epstein leveraged powerful to abuse vulnerable girls