On Monday, U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York unsealed a 14-page indictment that accused wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein of soliciting girls, some as young as 14, for sex acts in his sprawling Palm Beach, Fla., mansion and his 21,000 square-foot residence that is one of the largest in Manhattan.
In a press conference, federal prosecutors revealed that they conducted a search warrant on Epstein’s home and turned up nude pictures of underage girls and asked other victims to contact the FBI. Investigators allege that Epstein paid the victims hundreds of dollars and used them to recruit more victims. The Epstein saga spans 20 years and is so convoluted, many are asking why they should care.
Luckily, we may have answers.
Who is Jeffrey Epstein?
Jeffrey Epstein is a 66-year-old multimillionaire financier and registered sex offender. He essentially made his money by hobnobbing with the elite and making money for people who were already wealthy, which might explain how he acquired so many rich and powerful friends.
How did this scandal start?
According to the Guardian, in 2005, a woman reported that a man had paid her 14-year-old stepdaughter for sex to Palm Beach Police Officer Michele Pagan. The girl recounted that the man was middle-aged, had bushy eyebrows, a long face and lived in a huge house. The clues led the cops to Epstein’s mansion, which appeared to confirm the only other detail given by the teenager:
She called him “Jeff.”
Since then, the FBI has identified at least 40 young women who may have been paid by Epstein for activities that range from massages to sexual content, according to the FBI. But in 2008, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Southern Florida curiously agreed not to file federal charges if Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution. Epstein eventually served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
So why is this such a big deal?
Aside from a sordid story of wealth and power, Epstein was well-connected to powerful friends; the list of names includes former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and current President Donald Trump. Some have alleged that Epstein procured the services of women, some of whom may have been minors, for his luxurious parties.
Aside from being a longtime associate of Trump, Epstein has other ties to the current administration. In 2017, Politico reported that one of the wealthy businessman’s accusers was recruited by Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. The woman says that she was solicited into “sexual slavery” when she was 15-years-old, working as a locker room girl at Mar-a-Lago. Trump is reported to have noted that Epstein liked his women “on the younger side.”
Alex Acosta, the then U.S. attorney who cut that sweetheart deal with Epstein no longer works in the Justice Department. He is now employed as the Secretary of Labor.
This all sounds very sleazy, but why should I care?
Well, it is always interesting to see how justice is dispensed when the alleged perpetrator is rich and white. No one had to say that Jeffrey Epstein was going to buy NBC or that he should get leniency because he made the “Ignition” remix. Police have known about these allegations for nearly a decade and a half and Epstein’s deal—arranged by Acosta and Epstein’s lawyers—have essentially allowed him to get away with allegedly running a sex trafficking ring.
There’s also this:
Yes…all of this is perfectly normal.