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Stamping Out Online Sex Trafficking May Have Pushed it Underground

Westlake Legal Group 17trafficking-sub-facebookJumbo Stamping Out Online Sex Trafficking May Have Pushed it Underground Sex Crimes Regulation and Deregulation of Industry prostitution Online Advertising Law and Legislation human trafficking Child Abuse and Neglect Backpage.com

WASHINGTON — To combat the ills of the internet, federal lawmakers have increasingly focused on a decades-old law that shields tech companies like Facebook and YouTube from liability for content posted by their users.

Last year, lawmakers approved chipping away at the law, voting overwhelmingly to hold tech platforms accountable when people use their sites for sex-trafficking schemes. They have since floated other changes as well, like making Facebook or other platforms liable when opioids are sold on their sites.

But now, as the real-world effects of the sex-trafficking change take hold, some experts and politicians say the results are not all positive. And even some lawmakers who have championed a crackdown on Big Tech are now calling to revisit the change. On Tuesday, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two of the tech industry’s loudest critics, joined 11 other lawmakers in backing a federal study of its effects.

Law enforcement officials say that it is sometimes more difficult to track traffickers, because the law pushed them further underground. Advocates say that sex workers now face higher safety risks. The removal of sites advertising sex hinders their ability to vet their clients, the advocates say, and is pushing more of them onto the streets.

The renewed focus on the 2018 measure illustrates the difficulty of regulating the internet, including changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the 1996 law that enshrined platforms’ widespread immunity for what their users post. Even when lawmakers reach a consensus that a change is necessary — as was the case with sex trafficking — the ramifications can be wider than many expect.

“It’s really a good test case as we’re looking at other types of carve-outs to Section 230,” said Jeff Kosseff, an expert on the Section 230 protections. Lawyers across the country have also fought to limit the protections, arguing they don’t apply in cases where a digital product is defective. A set of anti-trafficking lawsuits in Texas threatens to chip away at the protections as well.

When lawmakers approved the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act last year, it was hailed as a way to catch up to the reality that the bartering of children and adults had moved from the streets to the web. It came after alarming allegations emerged about how Backpage, a classifieds site, may have been playing a role in trafficking.

Advocates for sex workers warned ahead of the vote in Washington about some of the potential downsides of the law. But they struggled to break through to lawmakers, who were hearing testimony from groups representing trafficking survivors.

“It misunderstands the way that trafficking works, if you think that making it less visible reduces the occurrence,” said Kate D’Adamo, an advocate for sex workers’ rights.

Their concerns have found a broader audience in recent months, even bubbling up on the presidential campaign trail. During a CNN town hall with the Democratic candidates this fall, for example, a questioner asked Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who had voted for the bill, what she would do to “counteract the negative impact this law has had.”

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat of California who was one of the few votes against the bill last year, said he believed Congress should have heard more about those concerns. He helped write the new legislation to study the law after hearing more from sex worker advocates.

“They didn’t hear the perspective of the impact it’s having on sex workers,” he said of his colleagues. “This is a cautionary tale that we have to be very deliberate, thoughtful, inclusive in how we regulate the internet.”

Mr. Khanna said that if a study of the law showed harm to sex workers, he hoped it would bolster the case for a repeal of the 2018 law.

Many supporters of the 2018 law say it has had a positive effect on the internet, and has helped curb sex trafficking. They note that no site has cropped up to replace Backpage, which was taken down as part of a federal criminal case before the law passed.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who sponsored the 2018 law, said in a statement that the sex trafficking carve-out was written to “change tech industry practices,” and that it had succeeded.

Any website that closed down because of the law, he said, “did so because it was knowingly facilitating sex trafficking or it was misled by critics of the law.”

But sex worker advocates point to changes on Craigslist, the classified site, and Reddit, the discussion board. Both sites removed swaths of content that referred to sex because the companies found it too difficult to tell whether people featured in the posts were being trafficked. Craigslist shuttered its personals section, for example, and Reddit closed forums called “Escorts” and “SugarDaddy.”

“Any tool or service can be misused,” Craigslist said in a statement at the time, explaining its decision to remove some ads in response to the law. “We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.”

The company did not respond to recent requests for comment.

Mr. Kosseff said the moves by Craigslist and other sites demonstrated that even minor changes to Section 230 could alter the venues for speech online.

“Now, whether that’s good or bad, that really depends on what your goals are,” he said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Stamping Out Online Sex Trafficking May Have Pushed it Underground

Westlake Legal Group 17trafficking-sub-facebookJumbo Stamping Out Online Sex Trafficking May Have Pushed it Underground Sex Crimes Regulation and Deregulation of Industry prostitution Online Advertising Law and Legislation human trafficking Child Abuse and Neglect Backpage.com

WASHINGTON — To combat the ills of the internet, federal lawmakers have increasingly focused on a decades-old law that shields tech companies like Facebook and YouTube from liability for content posted by their users.

Last year, lawmakers approved chipping away at the law, voting overwhelmingly to hold tech platforms accountable when people use their sites for sex-trafficking schemes. They have since floated other changes as well, like making Facebook or other platforms liable when opioids are sold on their sites.

But now, as the real-world effects of the sex-trafficking change take hold, some experts and politicians say the results are not all positive. And even some lawmakers who have championed a crackdown on Big Tech are now calling to revisit the change. On Tuesday, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two of the tech industry’s loudest critics, joined 11 other lawmakers in backing a federal study of its effects.

Law enforcement officials say that it is sometimes more difficult to track traffickers, because the law pushed them further underground. Advocates say that sex workers now face higher safety risks. The removal of sites advertising sex hinders their ability to vet their clients, the advocates say, and is pushing more of them onto the streets.

The renewed focus on the 2018 measure illustrates the difficulty of regulating the internet, including changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the 1996 law that enshrined platforms’ widespread immunity for what their users post. Even when lawmakers reach a consensus that a change is necessary — as was the case with sex trafficking — the ramifications can be wider than many expect.

“It’s really a good test case as we’re looking at other types of carve-outs to Section 230,” said Jeff Kosseff, an expert on the Section 230 protections. Lawyers across the country have also fought to limit the protections, arguing they don’t apply in cases where a digital product is defective. A set of anti-trafficking lawsuits in Texas threatens to chip away at the protections as well.

When lawmakers approved the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act last year, it was hailed as a way to catch up to the reality that the bartering of children and adults had moved from the streets to the web. It came after alarming allegations emerged about how Backpage, a classifieds site, may have been playing a role in trafficking.

Advocates for sex workers warned ahead of the vote in Washington about some of the potential downsides of the law. But they struggled to break through to lawmakers, who were hearing testimony from groups representing trafficking survivors.

“It misunderstands the way that trafficking works, if you think that making it less visible reduces the occurrence,” said Kate D’Adamo, an advocate for sex workers’ rights.

Their concerns have found a broader audience in recent months, even bubbling up on the presidential campaign trail. During a CNN town hall with the Democratic candidates this fall, for example, a questioner asked Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who had voted for the bill, what she would do to “counteract the negative impact this law has had.”

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat of California who was one of the few votes against the bill last year, said he believed Congress should have heard more about those concerns. He helped write the new legislation to study the law after hearing more from sex worker advocates.

“They didn’t hear the perspective of the impact it’s having on sex workers,” he said of his colleagues. “This is a cautionary tale that we have to be very deliberate, thoughtful, inclusive in how we regulate the internet.”

Mr. Khanna said that if a study of the law showed harm to sex workers, he hoped it would bolster the case for a repeal of the 2018 law.

Many supporters of the 2018 law say it has had a positive effect on the internet, and has helped curb sex trafficking. They note that no site has cropped up to replace Backpage, which was taken down as part of a federal criminal case before the law passed.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who sponsored the 2018 law, said in a statement that the sex trafficking carve-out was written to “change tech industry practices,” and that it had succeeded.

Any website that closed down because of the law, he said, “did so because it was knowingly facilitating sex trafficking or it was misled by critics of the law.”

But sex worker advocates point to changes on Craigslist, the classified site, and Reddit, the discussion board. Both sites removed swaths of content that referred to sex because the companies found it too difficult to tell whether people featured in the posts were being trafficked. Craigslist shuttered its personals section, for example, and Reddit closed forums called “Escorts” and “SugarDaddy.”

“Any tool or service can be misused,” Craigslist said in a statement at the time, explaining its decision to remove some ads in response to the law. “We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.”

The company did not respond to recent requests for comment.

Mr. Kosseff said the moves by Craigslist and other sites demonstrated that even minor changes to Section 230 could alter the venues for speech online.

“Now, whether that’s good or bad, that really depends on what your goals are,” he said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How a Ring of Women Allegedly Recruited Girls for Jeffrey Epstein

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Haley Robson was a 16-year-old South Florida high school student when an acquaintance from school approached her at a local pool with an intriguing offer: Did she want to make extra money giving massages to a billionaire in Palm Beach?

She agreed. When Jeffrey Epstein tried to grope her while she was giving him a massage, wearing nothing but a thong, she brushed his hand away, Ms. Robson said in a 2009 deposition for a civil case. But she continued to visit Mr. Epstein’s mansion dozens more times, in a lucrative new role: a recruiter of other teenage girls from her school.

“I didn’t have to convince them,” she said in the deposition. “I proposed to them. They took it.”

After Mr. Epstein’s suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in early August, federal authorities have refocused their investigation on the more than half-dozen employees, girlfriends and associates who prosecutors say he relied on to feed his insatiable appetite for girls, according to two people with knowledge of the inquiry. Ms. Robson, now 33, is among them.

A review by The New York Times of lawsuits, unsealed court records and depositions, along with new interviews, offers disturbing allegations about how this small cadre of women helped Mr. Epstein lure girls into his orbit and managed the logistics of his encounters with them.

The urgency of the investigation into Mr. Epstein’s associates was underscored on Tuesday when about two dozen women offered searing accounts of how he had sexually abused them before a packed courtroom in Manhattan.

The judge overseeing the case had invited the women to speak at a hearing to dismiss the indictment against Mr. Epstein in light of his death.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159800412_4582cd64-5e81-4d47-a0fc-2036ff85962e-articleLarge How a Ring of Women Allegedly Recruited Girls for Jeffrey Epstein Women and Girls Sarah Kellen prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Nadia Marcinkova Maxwell, Ghislaine Manhattan (NYC) Lesley Groff human trafficking Haley Robson Giuffre, Virginia Roberts Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Adriana Ross

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, right, and Sarah Ransome, left, who have said they were sexually abused by Mr. Epstein, after a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.  CreditJefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Several of the women implored federal prosecutors to continue investigating the women in Mr. Epstein’s inner circle.

“Jeffrey is no longer here, and the women that helped him are,” said Teresa Helm, who said she was recruited into Mr. Epstein’s world 17 years ago. “They definitely need to be held accountable for helping him, helping themselves, helping one another carry on this huge — almost like — system.”

The United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, whose office brought the charges against Mr. Epstein, said after his suicide that the investigation into the sex-trafficking conspiracy was not finished and prosecutors were committed to standing up for the “brave young women” Mr. Epstein had abused.

One of the women under scrutiny, Mr. Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, has been accused in several well-publicized lawsuits of overseeing efforts to procure girls and young women for him, a charge she has firmly denied.

But Mr. Epstein is also accused in civil suits of relying on an organized network of underlings: those who trained girls how to sexually pleasure him; office assistants who booked cars and travel; and recruiters who ensured he always had a fresh supply of teenage girls at the ready.

None of Mr. Epstein’s associates have been charged or named as co-conspirators in Manhattan. But federal authorities are eyeing possible charges that include sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, the two people with knowledge of the investigation said.

Four women were apparently so instrumental to Mr. Epstein’s operation that they were named as possible “co-conspirators” and were granted immunity from prosecution in a widely criticized plea bargain Mr. Epstein struck with federal prosecutors in Florida more than a decade ago. That deal allowed Mr. Epstein to plead guilty to state charges and to spend 13 months in a county jail rather than face a federal sex-trafficking indictment.

The four women — Sarah Kellen, Lesley Groff, Adriana Ross and Nadia Marcinkova — could still be subject to criminal charges in Manhattan. The United States attorney’s office has said it is not bound by the Florida agreement.

Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, shown in 1995.CreditPatrick McMullan, via Getty Images

Three women have alleged in lawsuits that Mr. Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring operated as a hierarchy, with the financier and Ms. Maxwell at the top.

“She orchestrated the whole thing for Jeffrey,” Sarah Ransome, who sued Ms. Maxwell and other associates in 2017, said in an interview.

Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, was Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion, managing his homes and introducing him to many of the politicians, celebrities and dignitaries who became fixtures within his social circle.

“They were like partners in business,” Janusz Banasiak, Mr. Epstein’s house manager, said in a deposition. Mr. Epstein’s butler, Alfredo Rodriguez, described Ms. Maxwell in a deposition as “the boss.”

Ms. Maxwell has vehemently denied she trafficked girls. Neither Ms. Maxwell nor her lawyers responded to requests for interviews for this article.

But Mr. Epstein’s accusers contend in court papers that Ms. Maxwell managed the network of recruiters and helped devise the playbook for how to lure young women into Mr. Epstein’s web. Recruiters were allegedly told to target young, financially desperate women, and to promise them help furthering their education and careers, these civil complaints said.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre said in a deposition that she was 16 when she met Ms. Maxwell and was recruited as a masseuse. She said she remembered Ms. Maxwell’s sales pitch: If she gave a wealthy man a massage, a whole world of opportunity would open to her.

“If the guy likes you, then, you know, it will work out for you,” Ms. Giuffre, in a deposition, recalled Ms. Maxwell telling her. “You’ll travel. You’ll make good money. You’ll be educated.”

Ms. Giuffre took the job. Soon, she said, she became Mr. Epstein’s “sex slave,” not only providing sexual favors to him but also to some of his acquaintances, including politicians and prominent businessmen.

“My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy,” she said in the deposition. “Their whole entire lives revolved around sex.”

Just below Ms. Maxwell in the chain of command was Ms. Kellen, another high-ranking employee, who has been accused in multiple lawsuits of scheduling girls for sex sessions with Mr. Epstein in his Palm Beach mansion.

She was called the “lieutenant” in one lawsuit. David Rodgers, Mr. Epstein’s pilot, said in a deposition that Ms. Kellen was “like an assistant to Ghislaine.”

Ms. Kellen kept the names and numbers of all the girls who gave Mr. Epstein erotic massages, according to Palm Beach police reports and Ms. Robson’s deposition. She would call them whenever Mr. Epstein was in town, asking the girls if they were ready to “work,” the reports and Ms. Robson said.

“She saw herself as the boss,” said Spencer T. Kuvin, a West Palm Beach lawyer who represented several accusers in lawsuits. “Sarah was really running that organization, bringing girls and getting them in and out of the Palm Beach home.”

Ms. Kellen, who sometimes goes by Sarah Kensington or Sarah Vickers, did not respond to requests for an interview. Her lawyers also did not respond to requests for comment.

Multiple girls told Palm Beach detectives that when they arrived at Mr. Epstein’s mansion, Ms. Kellen would escort them upstairs to Mr. Epstein’s bedroom and lay out the massage table with the various oils and lotions that they were to use on him, according to police reports.

In an interview, Ms. Ransome said Ms. Kellen and Ms. Maxwell also gave her tips on how to give Mr. Epstein erotic massages, including how to rub his feet and best satisfy him sexually.

“It was Ghislaine and Sarah Kellen that showed me how to please Jeffrey,” Ms. Ransome said.

Lesley Groff was Mr. Epstein’s executive assistant for nearly two decades.CreditMax Rapp/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images

Ms. Groff, Mr. Epstein’s executive assistant for almost 20 years, was one of the possible co-conspirators named in the 2008 plea deal Mr. Epstein’s lawyers worked out with the United States attorney’s office in Miami.

She said in a 2005 interview with The Times that she answered Mr. Epstein’s telephone and managed his schedule, which included meetings with prominent scientists, Wall Street executives, foreign dignitaries and American politicians.

Over the years, she said in 2005, she formed a special bond with the financier, anticipating his needs. “I know what he is thinking,” she said at the time.

But Ms. Ransome said in her lawsuit that Ms. Groff, now 53, also arranged travel and lodging for the seemingly endless stream of adolescent girls and young women who provided Mr. Epstein with erotic massages.

In a recent interview with The Times, Ms. Ransome said Ms. Groff communicated directly with her, repeating Mr. Epstein’s promises to help her obtain a fashion degree.

Ms. Groff’s lawyer, Michael Bachner, said his client worked as part of a professional staff, making appointments, taking messages and setting up meetings. “At no time during Lesley’s employment with Epstein did she ever engage in any misconduct and never knowingly made travel arrangements for anyone under 18,” Mr. Bachner said.

Ms. Ransome also alleged in her lawsuit that she was instructed by Mr. Epstein’s associates to go on a diet and to lose about 11 pounds to maintain her slim figure. In one email exchange reviewed by The Times, Ms. Ransome told Ms. Groff she was monitoring her weight for Mr. Epstein. “Please could you also let him know that I am now 57 kg and that everything is going well,” Ms. Ransome emailed Ms. Groff in 2007.

Another of Mr. Epstein’s assistants, Ms. Ross, was also named as a potential co-conspirator in the 2008 plea deal.

When Palm Beach police were investigating Mr. Epstein around 2005, Ms. Ross removed three computers from the Florida mansion, Mr. Banasiak, the house manager, said in a deposition. The police noted in their reports that the computers, which they had reason to think might contain photos of naked girls, were missing when investigators arrived.

“She show up one day with gentleman,” Mr. Banasiak said. “And she told me that they are moving out those computers.”

Ms. Ross, who went on to study accounting and is based in Miami, did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment.

Ms. Marcinkova, a former model and pilot, had come under police scrutiny in Palm Beach in 2005.

A 16-year-old told detectives she was giving Mr. Epstein a massage when Ms. Marcinkova entered the room naked, according to Palm Beach police reports. Mr. Epstein then told the girl she could make an extra $200 if she performed oral sex on Ms. Marcinkova, and the girl reluctantly agreed, the reports said.

That encounter was the first of many sexual trysts the teenager told the police she was coerced into having with both Ms. Marcinkova and Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion, according to a police incident report.

Police records also show that investigators had indications that Ms. Marcinkova might have been underage herself when she became involved with Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Marcinkova, who later used the last name Marcinko, declined to answer questions about Mr. Epstein’s alleged abuse of girls when she was deposed in a lawsuit, invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Reached by The Times, Ms. Marcinkova’s lawyers, Erica T. Dubno and Aaron Mysliwiec, said “like other victims, Nadia Marcinko is and has been severely traumatized” and “needs time to process and make sense of what she has been through before she is able to speak out.”

Prosecutors may face thorny legal issues in deciding whether to charge some of Mr. Epstein’s associates, like Ms. Robson and Ms. Marcinkova, who may have initially been victims themselves.

Determining criminal liability is always a complex decision if a person has been exploited for sex, then used as a pawn to recruit others, said Lauren Hersh, a former sex-trafficking prosecutor in Brooklyn who now leads World Without Exploitation, an anti-trafficking organization.

“But for their own exploitation, they wouldn’t do that,” she said. “It becomes really, really tricky.”

Ms. Robson, a former stripper and Olive Garden worker, was not among the four women given immunity in the Florida plea agreement. But her role in Mr. Epstein’s operation was significant enough that Palm Beach Police detectives had planned to charge her more than a decade ago, according to an affidavit by the lead detective in Palm Beach.

She was also sued twice, and she described her role in Mr. Epstein’s operation in a deposition.

When Mr. Epstein would fly into Florida, Ms. Robson said she would get a call on her cellphone from Ms. Kellen, who would tell her how many massages the financier needed for the upcoming visit. The two of them would hammer out logistics.

“I would have a girl that would be available for those dates and times,” Ms. Robson said in a 2009 deposition.

Ms. Robson told lawyers she made $200 for every high school girl she brought to the Palm Beach mansion. She recruited the girls from her high school, including one who was 14. When she brought a 23-year-old, Mr. Epstein balked. Too old, he told her.

The girls knew what they were getting into, Ms. Robson said. The rules were unspoken, but understood.

“The more you do, the more you make,” Ms. Robson said in the deposition. “If you were topless, if you were working in your thong, your bra, you’re going to make more than a hundred.”

Reached by The Times, Ms. Robson said, “I have nothing to say. I would appreciate if I was not contacted.”

Douglas McIntosh, a lawyer who represented her in a civil case in Florida, called Ms. Robson “a lovely young lady,” but declined to answer questions about her involvement with Mr. Epstein.

In her deposition, Ms. Robson said that she had debated suing Mr. Epstein, but decided against it.

“I just thought it was the easy way out,” she said. “And then I decided this is my life and I have to take responsibility for my own actions because I did volunteer.”

Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘He Is a Coward’

Aug. 27, 2019

Epstein’s Island, ‘Little St. Jeff’s’: A Hideaway Where Money Bought Influence

Aug. 28, 2019

$56 Million Upper East Side Mansion Where Epstein Allegedly Abused Girls

July 8, 2019

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Epstein’s Island, ‘Little St. Jeff’s’: A Hideaway Where Money Bought Influence

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands — Jeffrey Epstein once described the United States Virgin Islands as “my favorite place to be.”

When he was there, Mr. Epstein had a knack for getting his way, according to public records and interviews with residents and local officials.

Mr. Epstein, the accused sex trafficker who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail this month, used these islands as a personal and corporate hideaway, negotiating lucrative local tax breaks even as he faced federal investigations for sexual misconduct.

He cultivated close ties to the islands’ political and financial elite. He employed a governor’s wife. He hired an architecture firm owned by that governor’s uncle. He donated money, sponsored scholarships and even gave dozens of computers to a local lawmaker to distribute.

The islands became a haven for Mr. Epstein. His private plane would fly him to St. Thomas’s international airport, where he would board a helicopter that whisked him to his Little St. James and Great St. James islands. Once there, he was known to entertain famous friends and, his accusers have said in court filings, traffic underage girls for sex.

While federal authorities spent years criminally investigating Mr. Epstein, a spokesman for the local police department said it had no records of having visited his Virgin Islands properties.

“It was kind of accepted,” said Sasha Bouis, who used to run a floating restaurant anchored near Great St. James. “There was just this creepy old billionaire living out there.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159284841_f519e8f3-a5e7-4ada-a22a-b069222b8970-articleLarge Epstein’s Island, ‘Little St. Jeff’s’: A Hideaway Where Money Bought Influence Virgin Islands (US) Sex Crimes prostitution human trafficking High Net Worth Individuals Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Child Abuse and Neglect

Mr. Epstein’s mansion on Little St. James Island. He paid $7.95 million for Little St. James in 1998 and spent millions more developing his two islands, including building a villa with a library, a Japanese bathhouse and a movie theater.CreditGabriel Lopez Albarran/Associated Press

Since Mr. Epstein was charged with sex trafficking in July, his island operations have been under scrutiny. A few days after his Aug. 10 death, F.B.I. agents and New York Police Department investigators raided Little St. James, which some locals say they had nicknamed “Pedophile Island.”

Federal prosecutors handling Mr. Epstein’s sex-trafficking case have said the investigation will not end with his death. In recent lawsuits, his accusers have lodged fresh claims about how they were sexually assaulted on his islands.

In the weeks ahead, the wrangling over Mr. Epstein’s assets is likely to play out on St. Thomas. Last week, lawyers handling Mr. Epstein’s estate filed his will in court there and said he had more than $570 million in assets.

Mr. Epstein arrived in the Virgin Islands in 1998, when he paid $7.95 million for Little St. James, a roughly 70-acre island with ocean views. Mr. Epstein called it “Little St. Jeff’s.” In 2016, he bought the larger Great St. James for $17.5 million.

Over the years, he spent millions more developing the islands, including building a villa with a library, a Japanese bathhouse and a movie theater.

His construction projects led to repeated clashes between Mr. Epstein and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, according to paperwork related to his work permits reviewed by The New York Times.

A memo from the agency’s wildlife chief in 2010 noted that Mr. Epstein’s properties had “a long history of egregious and blatant disregard for environmental regulations.” Projects there had “introduced several non-native species to the island.” The arrival of one invasive species, the Cuban treefrog, led to a recommendation that all landscaping and building materials be inspected, the memo said.

Mr. Epstein called Little St. James Island “Little St. Jeff’s.”CreditGabriella N. Baez for The New York Times

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers resolved some disputes by paying fines, retroactively applying for permits and making donations, sometimes using funds from his charities.

In 2016, Mr. Epstein reached a settlement with the agency over unapproved construction projects on Great St. James. Officials soon accused his company of violating the agreement by not removing a beach bar cabana and by expanding a driveway, despite a stop-work order.

Mr. Epstein used St. Thomas to register a number of his businesses. Little remains known about their purposes. In public documents, many listed their addresses as Mr. Epstein’s office at the American Yacht Harbor complex in the Red Hook quarter of St. Thomas.

Mr. Epstein was rarely seen there. Last week, a man at the front desk said through an intercom that no one was available to talk to a reporter.

People around St. Thomas are reluctant to talk about Mr. Epstein — even after his death, locals say, there are fears about violating nondisclosure agreements or angering his close associates on the island.

Mr. Epstein went out of his way to ingratiate himself with local leaders. He donated 50 computers that a local senator could give away to schools and youth organizations. He financed programs at an elite local private school. He sponsored scholarships for a beauty pageant and a 2014 science and math fair for children in the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Epstein’s companies repeatedly were allowed to participate in a United States Virgin Islands tax-cut program that allows certain people and businesses that invest at least $100,000 locally to have their income and other tax rates cut substantially or eliminated altogether.

In 2012, one of his companies, Southern Trust, applied to take part — and cited his donations as a selling point.

“Those of you who know Mr. Epstein — he has been a long-term resident of the Virgin Islands — know that he has given generously over the course of the last 11 years to various charities in the Virgin Islands,” said Erika Kellerhals, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, at a public hearing about the application.

That application was approved. So were Mr. Epstein’s previous applications for his advisory company, Financial Trust, and the Red Hook marina that he co-owned with a company owned by a New York businessman. The authority held a hearing on one application in 2009, shortly after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.

The office of Southern Trust, one of Mr. Epstein’s companies, in St. Thomas. His companies repeatedly were allowed to participate in a tax-cut program that allows those who invest at least $100,000 locally to have their income and other tax rates cut or eliminated altogether.CreditGabriella N. Baez for The New York Times

The tax-incentive program is administered by a division of the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. Some of its board members are appointed by the governor of the Virgin Islands.

From January 2007 to January 2015 — when Mr. Epstein’s various companies were participating in or applying for the tax program — the governor was John P. de Jongh Jr. The governor’s wife, Cecile, was the manager of Southern Trust. (It was not clear what that role entailed.) Mr. Epstein had also hired an architecture firm owned by Mr. de Jongh’s late uncle for work on his private islands, records show. Efforts to reach the de Jonghs were unsuccessful.

In an interview, executives from the economic development authority said that Mr. Epstein’s businesses had qualified for and remained in compliance with the program, which has 71 participants. The authority would not disclose the dollar value of the nearly two decades of tax breaks Mr. Epstein’s companies received.

“I can’t say anything stood out in this particular case,” said Wayne Biggs Jr., the authority’s assistant chief executive.

Mr. Epstein had unusual plans for Southern Trust: He hoped to create an algorithm to mine information from genetic sequencing databases as a way to find treatments for cancer, according to the transcript of the tax-incentive hearing, which is where he extolled the Virgin Islands as his “favorite place.” Mr. Epstein had long cast himself as a science aficionado, inviting physicists to his island, and even discussing how he could perpetuate his own DNA in the human population.

As he made the pitch for the tax break in 2012, he compared his DNA-sequencing efforts to those of the Wright Brothers and the science to “Frankenstein.” He also noted that he had a friend in New York who had a recent cancer diagnosis. “I’m leaving for New York after this meeting to go sit with the sequencers to see if I can save my friend,” he said.

“Places, frankly, like St. Thomas are the perfect place to sequence people because it is so isolated,” he added.

At times, the board seemed perplexed with his plan. Mr. Epstein offered reassurances.

“I am not a madman,” he said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

On Epstein’s ‘Little St. Jeff’s’ Island, a Hideaway Where Money Bought Influence

ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands — Jeffrey Epstein once described the United States Virgin Islands as “my favorite place to be.”

When he was there, Mr. Epstein had a knack for getting his way, according to public records and interviews with residents and local officials.

Mr. Epstein, the accused sex trafficker who committed suicide in a Manhattan jail this month, used these islands as a personal and corporate hideaway, negotiating lucrative local tax breaks even as he faced federal investigations for sexual misconduct.

He cultivated close ties to the islands’ political and financial elite. He employed a governor’s wife. He hired an architecture firm owned by that governor’s uncle. He donated money, sponsored scholarships and even gave dozens of computers to a local lawmaker to distribute.

The islands became a haven for Mr. Epstein. His private plane would fly him to St. Thomas’s international airport, where he would board a helicopter that whisked him to his Little St. James and Great St. James islands. Once there, he was known to entertain famous friends and, his accusers have said in court filings, traffic underage girls for sex.

While federal authorities spent years criminally investigating Mr. Epstein, a spokesman for the local police department said it had no records of having visited his Virgin Islands properties.

“It was kind of accepted,” said Sasha Bouis, who used to run a floating restaurant anchored near Great St. James. “There was just this creepy old billionaire living out there.”

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Mr. Epstein’s mansion on Little St. James Island. He paid $7.95 million for Little St. James in 1998 and spent millions more developing his two islands, including building a villa with a library, a Japanese bathhouse and a movie theater.CreditGabriel Lopez Albarran/Associated Press

Since Mr. Epstein was charged with sex trafficking in July, his island operations have been under scrutiny. A few days after his Aug. 10 death, F.B.I. agents and New York Police Department investigators raided Little St. James, which some locals say they had nicknamed “Pedophile Island.”

Federal prosecutors handling Mr. Epstein’s sex-trafficking case have said the investigation will not end with his death. In recent lawsuits, his accusers have lodged fresh claims about how they were sexually assaulted on his islands.

In the weeks ahead, the wrangling over Mr. Epstein’s assets is likely to play out on St. Thomas. Last week, lawyers handling Mr. Epstein’s estate filed his will in court there and said he had more than $570 million in assets.

Mr. Epstein arrived in the Virgin Islands in 1998, when he paid $7.95 million for Little St. James, a roughly 70-acre island with ocean views. Mr. Epstein called it “Little St. Jeff’s.” In 2016, he bought the larger Great St. James for $17.5 million.

Over the years, he spent millions more developing the islands, including building a villa with a library, a Japanese bathhouse and a movie theater.

His construction projects led to repeated clashes between Mr. Epstein and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, according to paperwork related to his work permits reviewed by The New York Times.

A memo from the agency’s wildlife chief in 2010 noted that Mr. Epstein’s properties had “a long history of egregious and blatant disregard for environmental regulations.” Projects there had “introduced several non-native species to the island.” The arrival of one invasive species, the Cuban treefrog, led to a recommendation that all landscaping and building materials be inspected, the memo said.

Mr. Epstein called Little St. James Island “Little St. Jeff’s.”CreditGabriella N. Baez for The New York Times

Mr. Epstein’s lawyers resolved some disputes by paying fines, retroactively applying for permits and making donations, sometimes using funds from his charities.

In 2016, Mr. Epstein reached a settlement with the agency over unapproved construction projects on Great St. James. Officials soon accused his company of violating the agreement by not removing a beach bar cabana and by expanding a driveway, despite a stop-work order.

Mr. Epstein used St. Thomas to register a number of his businesses. Little remains known about their purposes. In public documents, many listed their addresses as Mr. Epstein’s office at the American Yacht Harbor complex in the Red Hook quarter of St. Thomas.

Mr. Epstein was rarely seen there. Last week, a man at the front desk said through an intercom that no one was available to talk to a reporter.

People around St. Thomas are reluctant to talk about Mr. Epstein — even after his death, locals say, there are fears about violating nondisclosure agreements or angering his close associates on the island.

Mr. Epstein went out of his way to ingratiate himself with local leaders. He donated 50 computers that a local senator could give away to schools and youth organizations. He financed programs at an elite local private school. He sponsored scholarships for a beauty pageant and a 2014 science and math fair for children in the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Epstein’s companies repeatedly were allowed to participate in a United States Virgin Islands tax-cut program that allows certain people and businesses that invest at least $100,000 locally to have their income and other tax rates cut substantially or eliminated altogether.

In 2012, one of his companies, Southern Trust, applied to take part — and cited his donations as a selling point.

“Those of you who know Mr. Epstein — he has been a long-term resident of the Virgin Islands — know that he has given generously over the course of the last 11 years to various charities in the Virgin Islands,” said Erika Kellerhals, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, at a public hearing about the application.

That application was approved. So were Mr. Epstein’s previous applications for his advisory company, Financial Trust, and the Red Hook marina that he co-owned with a company owned by a New York businessman. The authority held a hearing on one application in 2009, shortly after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.

The office of Southern Trust, one of Mr. Epstein’s companies, in St. Thomas. His companies repeatedly were allowed to participate in a tax-cut program that allows those who invest at least $100,000 locally to have their income and other tax rates cut or eliminated altogether.CreditGabriella N. Baez for The New York Times

The tax-incentive program is administered by a division of the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. Some of its board members are appointed by the governor of the Virgin Islands.

From January 2007 to January 2015 — when Mr. Epstein’s various companies were participating in or applying for the tax program — the governor was John P. de Jongh Jr. The governor’s wife, Cecile, was the manager of Southern Trust. (It was not clear what that role entailed.) Mr. Epstein had also hired an architecture firm owned by Mr. de Jongh’s late uncle for work on his private islands, records show. Efforts to reach the de Jonghs were unsuccessful.

In an interview, executives from the economic development authority said that Mr. Epstein’s businesses had qualified for and remained in compliance with the program, which has 71 participants. The authority would not disclose the dollar value of the nearly two decades of tax breaks Mr. Epstein’s companies received.

“I can’t say anything stood out in this particular case,” said Wayne Biggs Jr., the authority’s assistant chief executive.

Mr. Epstein had unusual plans for Southern Trust: He hoped to create an algorithm to mine information from genetic sequencing databases as a way to find treatments for cancer, according to the transcript of the tax-incentive hearing, which is where he extolled the Virgin Islands as his “favorite place.” Mr. Epstein had long cast himself as a science aficionado, inviting physicists to his island, and even discussing how he could perpetuate his own DNA in the human population.

As he made the pitch for the tax break in 2012, he compared his DNA-sequencing efforts to those of the Wright Brothers and the science to “Frankenstein.” He also noted that he had a friend in New York who had a recent cancer diagnosis. “I’m leaving for New York after this meeting to go sit with the sequencers to see if I can save my friend,” he said.

“Places, frankly, like St. Thomas are the perfect place to sequence people because it is so isolated,” he added.

At times, the board seemed perplexed with his plan. Mr. Epstein offered reassurances.

“I am not a madman,” he said.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘He Is a Coward’

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One woman was an aspiring model from a small town. Another invoked her own daughters in her remarks. Another said she had struggled with relationships because of her experience.

One by one, the women told a packed federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday how Jeffrey Epstein had sexually abused them and used his power and wealth to silence them, sometimes for years. For many, it was their first time speaking about it in public.

A chair at the defense table remained empty: Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center this month, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

“For that, he is a coward,” said one of his accusers, Courtney Wild, who has said Mr. Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14.

It was a moment of catharsis. Never had so many of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, from so many places, gathered to tell grotesquely similar stories, laying bare the breadth of the Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

“The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul,” said Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Mr. Epstein of raping her when she was a 15-year-old student at a performing arts high school in New York. “They let this man kill himself and kill the chance of justice for so many others in the process, taking away our ability to speak.”

Ms. Wild and Ms. Araoz were among the nearly two dozen accusers who shared their accounts with Judge Richard M. Berman at a hearing called after federal prosecutors said they planned to drop the sex trafficking charges against Mr. Epstein in light of his death — a decision that requires a judge’s approval.

Though throwing out an indictment after a defendant dies is usually a routine matter, Judge Berman, who called the suicide “a rather stunning turn of events,” said one reason he convened the hearing was to give the women their day in court.

“Mr. Epstein’s death obviously means that a trial in which he is a defendant cannot take place,” Judge Berman said. “I believe it is the court’s responsibility, and manifestly within its purview, to ensure that the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159777630_75e2e546-0724-4c7d-b2af-8dfdfa96026b-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘He Is a Coward’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Mr. Epstein hanged himself in jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. CreditNew York State Sex Offender Registry, via Associated Press

At the hearing, Mr. Epstein’s lawyers said they were unsatisfied with the city medical examiner’s investigation into their client’s death, which found that Mr. Epstein had killed himself.

Reid Weingarten, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, implored Judge Berman — even if he dismissed the indictment — to conduct an independent investigation into Mr. Epstein’s death. Mr. Weingarten, citing the public interest in the case and “conspiracy theories galore,” said Judge Berman could hold hearings or assign an independent lawyer.

“The court has a role to play,” Mr. Weingarten said. “It is the institution that most people have confidence in in these very troubled times.”

The judge did not immediately act on the request. Prosecutors said a grand jury was already investigating Mr. Epstein’s death.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein avoided federal prosecution on sex trafficking charges in Florida, when he reached a widely criticized plea bargain with the United States attorney in Miami that let him plead guilty to state prostitution charges and serve 13 months in a local jail.

But the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan opened its own investigation and charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy in July. The indictment said that between 2002 and 2005 he paid dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to have sex with him at his mansion in New York and his compound in Palm Beach, Fla.

The possibility Mr. Epstein might stand trial on the new charges ended, however, when he was found dead in his cell around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10. He had been taken off the jail’s suicide watch two weeks earlier after a failed attempt to kill himself. No guard had checked on him for about three hours, a violation of jail protocol, law enforcement officials said.

At the judge’s invitation, the rows of women in the gallery on Tuesday stood and formed a line leading into the well of the packed courtroom, some clasping each other’s hands and whispering words of encouragement.

For more than an hour, they took turns describing their trauma and voicing their anger that Mr. Epstein had avoided accountability for decades. Some women spoke anonymously; some through lawyers. Sixteen of them spoke in person, many with shaky voices, trembling hands and tears.

“I am every girl he did this to, and they’re all me, and today we stand together, those that are present and those that aren’t,” said Anouska De Georgiou, who said she was a naïve teenager when Mr. Epstein sexually abused her.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 27EPSTEINnew2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘He Is a Coward’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Jennifer Araoz, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, spoke to the news media after a hearing on Tuesday.CreditCreditJefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Another woman, identified only as a Jane Doe, described how she was flown to Mr. Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 2004 when she was 15. There, she said, he sexually assaulted her and took her virginity, telling her he was helping her “to grow.”

“After he finished with me, he told me to describe in detail how good my first sexual experience felt,” she said.

Chauntae Davies, an aspiring masseuse, said Mr. Epstein had flown her to his private island in the Caribbean, where his associate instructed her to give him a massage. She said the encounter became violent when Mr. Epstein grabbed her wrist and pulled her body “onto his already naked body,” she said. She said she begged him to stop but “that just seemed to excite him more.”

Several of the women turned toward prosecutors during their remarks and urged them to continue investigating Mr. Epstein’s employees and associates, who they said had helped lure them into Mr. Epstein’s scheme. Some named Sarah Kellen or Ghislaine Maxwell as women who had helped bring them into Mr. Epstein’s orbit.

“Please finish what you have started,” said Sarah Ransome, another of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, who has said she was sexually abused by Mr. Epstein after she had been recruited to give him a massage.

Seated in the front row were the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, and the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, William F. Sweeney Jr.

Maurene R. Comey, a prosecutor, assured the judge that the government would still pursue others who may have aided Mr. Epstein in the sex-trafficking scheme, saying those investigations “have been ongoing, remain ongoing and will continue.”

Attorney General William P. Barr called the shortcomings at the jail “serious irregularities.”

For Mr. Epstein’s accusers, his death was his final escape from justice. Some spoke in anguish, some appeared relieved, and others said they were still haunted by Mr. Epstein’s abuse.

“I refuse to let this man win in death,” Ms. Davies said. “I have found my voice now, and while Jeffrey may no longer be here to hear it, I will not stop fighting, and I will not be silenced anymore.”

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’

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One woman was an aspiring model from a small town. Another invoked her own daughters in her remarks. Another said she had struggled with relationships because of her experience.

One by one, the women told a packed federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday how Jeffrey Epstein had sexually abused them and used his power and wealth to silence them, sometimes for years. For many, it was their first time speaking about it in public.

A chair at the defense table remained empty: Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center this month, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

“For that, he is a coward,” said one of his accusers, Courtney Wild, who has said Mr. Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14.

It was a moment of catharsis in a case that, for more than a decade, has eluded any sense of closure. Never had so many of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, from so many places, gathered to tell grotesquely similar stories, laying bare the breadth of the Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

“The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul,” said Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Mr. Epstein of raping her when she was a 15-year-old student at a performing arts high school in New York. “They let this man kill himself and kill the chance of justice for so many others in the process, taking away our ability to speak.”

Ms. Wild and Ms. Araoz were among the nearly two dozen accusers who shared their accounts with Judge Richard M. Berman at a hearing called after federal prosecutors said they planned to drop the sex trafficking charges against Mr. Epstein in light of his death — a decision that requires a judge’s approval.

Though throwing out an indictment after a defendant dies is usually a routine matter, Judge Berman, who called the suicide “a rather stunning turn of events,” said one reason he convened the hearing was to give the women their day in court.

“Mr. Epstein’s death obviously means that a trial in which he is a defendant cannot take place,” Judge Berman said. “I believe it is the court’s responsibility, and manifestly within its purview, to ensure that the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159777630_75e2e546-0724-4c7d-b2af-8dfdfa96026b-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Mr. Epstein hanged himself in jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. CreditNew York State Sex Offender Registry, via Associated Press

At the hearing, Mr. Epstein’s lawyers said they were unsatisfied with the city medical examiner’s investigation into their client’s death, which found that Mr. Epstein had killed himself.

Reid Weingarten, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, implored Judge Berman — even if he dismissed the indictment — to conduct an independent investigation into Mr. Epstein’s death. Mr. Weingarten, citing the public interest in the case and “conspiracy theories galore,” said Judge Berman could hold hearings or assign an independent lawyer.

“The court has a role to play,” Mr. Weingarten said. “It is the institution that most people have confidence in in these very troubled times.”

The judge did not immediately act on the request. Prosecutors said a grand jury was already investigating Mr. Epstein’s death.

In 2008, Mr. Epstein avoided federal prosecution on sex trafficking charges in Florida, when he reached a widely criticized plea bargain with the United States attorney in Miami that let him plead guilty to state prostitution charges and serve 13 months in a local jail.

But the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan opened its own investigation and charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy in July. The indictment said that between 2002 and 2005 he paid dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to have sex with him at his mansions in New York and his compound in Palm Beach, Fla.

The possibility Mr. Epstein might stand trial on the new charges ended, however, when he was found dead in his cell around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10. He had been taken off the jail’s suicide watch two weeks earlier after an earlier, failed attempt to kill himself. No guard had checked on him for about three hours, a violation of jail protocol, law enforcement officials said.

At the judge’s invitation, the rows of women in the gallery on Tuesday stood and formed a line leading into the well of the packed courtroom, some clasping each other’s hands and whispering words of encouragement.

For more than an hour, they took turns describing their trauma and voicing their anger that Mr. Epstein had avoided a long prison sentence for decades. Some women spoke anonymously; some through lawyers. Sixteen of them spoke in person, many with shaky voices, trembling hands and tears.

“I am every girl he did this to, and they’re all me, and today we stand together, those that are present and those that aren’t,” said Anouska De Georgiou, who said she was a naïve teenager when Mr. Epstein sexually abused her.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 27EPSTEINnew2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Jennifer Araoz, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, spoke to the news media after a hearing on Tuesday.CreditCreditJefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Another woman, identified only as a Jane Doe, described how she was flown to Mr. Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 2004 when she was 15. There, she said, he sexually assaulted her and took her virginity, telling her he was helping her “to grow.”

“After he finished with me, he told me to describe in detail how good my first sexual experience felt,” she said.

Chauntae Davies, an aspiring masseuse, said Mr. Epstein had flown her to his private island in the Caribbean, where his associates instructed her to give him a massage. She said the encounter became violent, when Mr. Epstein grabbed her wrist and pulled her body “onto his already naked body,” she said. She said she begged him to stop but “that just seemed to excite him more.”

Several of the women turned toward prosecutors during their remarks and urged them to continue investigating Mr. Epstein’s employees and associates, who they said had helped lure them into Mr. Epstein’s scheme. Some named Sarah Kellen or Ghislaine Maxwell as women who had helped bring them into Mr. Epstein’s orbit.

“Please finish what you have started,” said Sarah Ransome, another of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, who has said she was sexually abused by Mr. Epstein after she had been recruited to give him a massage.

Seated in the front row were the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, and the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, William F. Sweeney Jr.

Maurene R. Comey, a prosecutor, assured the judge that the government would still pursue others who may have aided Mr. Epstein in the sex-trafficking scheme, saying those investigations “have been ongoing, remain ongoing and will continue.”

Attorney General William P. Barr called the shortcomings at the jail “serious irregularities,” and pledged to determine why Mr. Epstein was apparently left unsupervised just weeks after he was taken off suicide watch after an apparent initial attempt at killing himself on July 23.

For Mr. Epstein’s accusers, his death was his final escape from justice. Some spoke in anguish, some appeared relieved, and others said they were still haunted by Mr. Epstein’s abuse.

“I refuse to let this man win in death,” Ms. Davies said. “I have found my voice now, and while Jeffrey may no longer be here to hear it, I will not stop fighting, and I will not be silenced anymore.”

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Anger: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’

One woman was an aspiring violinist from Texas. Another was a struggling model from overseas. One woman invoked her own daughters in her remarks. Another said she had stayed single for years because of her experience.

One by one, the women walked up to a podium in a packed federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday, and told their story of how the financier Jeffrey Epstein had abused them, and then had leveraged his power and wealth to silence them, sometimes for years. For many, it was their first time speaking about their experience in public.

Mr. Epstein was not there, having killed himself in jail two weeks ago. But more than 16 of his accusers showed up at a routine hearing about dismissing the indictment to talk about the distress they had endured and a criminal justice system that they said had failed them.

Many expressed anger that Mr. Epstein had robbed them of the chance to confront him in court after he hanged himself with a bedsheet. “For that, he is a coward,” one of the women, Courtney Wild, said.

“I feel very angry and sad,” Ms. Wild added. “Justice has never been served in this case.”

The hearing was a moment of catharsis in a criminal proceeding that had attracted intense national attention because of Mr. Epstein’s ties to several wealthy and powerful people, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159777630_75e2e546-0724-4c7d-b2af-8dfdfa96026b-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Anger: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Mr. Epstein hanged himself in jail while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. CreditNew York State Sex Offender Registry, via Associated Press

Several of Mr. Epstein’s accusers told how they had been coerced at a young age into having sex with him for money, then were pressured through threats and promises of career help to continue seeing him. “These are things that so many girls can relate to,” said one of the women, speaking anonymously. “Change needs to happen.”

Mr. Epstein’s suicide was particularly galling for his accusers because he had escaped federal prosecution on similar charges in Florida in 2008, when he reached a widely criticized plea bargain with the United States attorney in Miami. Under that deal, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges, including soliciting a minor for prostitution, and served 13 months in a local jail, where he was allowed out on work-release six days a week.

Then in July, the possibility that he might face a stiffer punishment was rekindled, as prosecutors in Manhattan, who had reopened the investigation, charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. The indictment said that between 2002 and 2005 he paid dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to have sex with him at his mansions in New York and his compound in Palm Beach, Fla.

The actress Anouska De Georgiou said she was appearing in court out of a spirit of solidarity. “I am every girl he did this to, and they are all me,” she said, “and today we stand together.”

Several of the women turned toward prosecutors during their remarks and urged them to continue investigating Mr. Epstein’s employees and associates, who they said had helped lure them into Mr. Epstein’s scheme. “Please, finish what you have started,” said Sarah Ransome, another of Mr. Epstein’s accusers.

Prosecutors assured the court that the investigation would continue into others who are believed to have aided Mr. Epstein in his long-running sex-trafficking scheme, helping to procure dozens of teenage girls and women.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 27EPSTEINnew2-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Anger: ‘Justice Has Never Been Served’ prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Jennifer Araoz, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, spoke to the news media after a hearing on Tuesday.CreditCreditJefferson Siegel for The New York Times

The dismissal of Mr. Epstein’s case “in no way prohibits or inhibits the government’s ongoing investigation into other potential co-conspirators, nor does it prevent the bringing of a new case in the future,” a government prosecutor, Maurene Comey, said. She added those inquiries “have been ongoing, remain ongoing and will continue.”

Judge Richard M. Berman had scheduled the hearing on Tuesday after federal prosecutors wrote to him last week, saying that in light of Mr. Epstein’s death, they planned to drop the criminal charges against him — a decision that requires a judge’s approval. Noting the intense public interest in the case, he invited victims to speak.

“I believe it is the court’s responsibility, and manifestly within its purview, to ensure the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity,” he said at the start of the hearing.

The judge, in a brief order, said he wanted to hold the hearing because the public might still have an “interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment.”

The judge did not elaborate, but his statement seemed to acknowledge the extraordinary public interest in the questions surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death and the future of the government’s broader investigation into his associates.

Judge Berman said in the order that he wanted to hear from the prosecution and the lawyers who had been representing Mr. Epstein, and he also invited Mr. Epstein’s accusers and their lawyers to address the court if they wished to.

As if to underscore the wide interest in the matter, the hearing was moved from the judge’s regular courtroom to a much larger one that is typically used for the high-profile cases.

Mr. Epstein was found dead around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10 after apparently hanging himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was being held pending trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Law enforcement officials say he had not been checked on for about three hours, a violation of jail protocol. The city medical examiner said on Aug. 16 that it had determined Mr. Epstein died by suicide.

The news of Mr. Epstein’s death — and the circumstances surrounding it — sent shock waves through the justice system and prompted an outcry in Congress and investigations by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Attorney General William P. Barr called the shortcomings at the jail “serious irregularities,” and pledged to determine why Mr. Epstein was apparently left unsupervised just weeks after he was taken off suicide watch after an apparent initial attempt at killing himself on July 23.

“We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability,” Mr. Barr said after Mr. Epstein’s death.

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Inmate 76318-054: The Last Days of Jeffrey Epstein

Aug. 17, 2019

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The Sisters Who First Tried to Take Down Jeffrey Epstein

Aug. 26, 2019

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing

One by one, the women walked up to a podium in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday, finally given the opportunity to speak in a formal proceeding about the man they said had abused them.

The man, Jeffrey Epstein, was not there, having killed himself in jail two weeks ago. Yet more than a dozen of his accusers showed up at a hearing on dismissing the indictment to tell their stories, to talk about the distress they had endured and a criminal justice system that they said had failed them.

Many said they were angry that Mr. Epstein’s suicide robbed them of the chance to confront him in court. “For that, he is a coward,” said one of his accusers, Courtney Wild.

“I feel very angry and sad,” Ms. Wild said. “Justice has never been served in this case.”

For more than an hour in court, the women spoke of their frustration, anger and trauma. Some spoke anonymously, some in person, some through lawyers, some through letters and many of them through tears.

It was a moment of catharsis in a criminal proceeding that had attracted intense national attention because of Mr. Epstein’s ties to several wealthy and powerful people, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain.

Mr. Epstein’s suicide was particularly galling for his accusers because he had escaped federal prosecution on similar charges in Florida in 2008 when he reached a widely criticized plea bargain with the United States attorney in Miami. Under that deal, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges, including soliciting a minor for prostitution, and served 13 months in a local jail, where he was allowed out on work-release six a days a week.

Several of Mr. Epstein’s accusers spoke about how they had been coerced at a young age into having sex with him for money, then were pressured to continue seeing him. “These are things that so many girls can relate to,” said one of the women, speaking anonymously. “Change needs to happen.”

Another woman, who spoke anonymously, said Mr. Epstein had victimized her a second time by taking his own life. “It felt like new trauma all over again,” she said.

Others, like the actress Anouska De Georgiou, said they were appearing in court out of a spirit of solidarity. “I am every girl he did this to, and they are all me,” she said, “and today we stand together.”

Several of the women turned to prosecutors during their remarks and urged them to continue investigating Mr. Epstein’s employees and associates, who they said had helped lure them into Mr. Epstein’s scheme. “Please, finish what you have started,” said Sarah Ransome, another of Mr. Epstein’s accusers.

Prosecutors assured the court the investigation would continue into others who are believed to have aided Mr. Epstein in his long-running sex-trafficking scheme, helping to procure dozens of teenage girls and women.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159791160_8a4fddbc-9102-402e-b650-a316eb60818a-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

Virginia Giuffre, with her lawyer, David Boies, arriving at the hearing on Tuesday. She was one of several of Mr. Epstein’s accusers who appeared in court. CreditShannon Stapleton/Reuters

The dismissal of Mr. Epstein’s case “in no way prohibits or inhibits the government’s ongoing investigation into other potential co-conspirators, nor does it prevent the bringing of a new case in the future,” a government prosecutor, Maurene Comey, said. She added those inquiries “have been ongoing, remain ongoing and will continue.”

Judge Richard M. Berman had scheduled the hearing on Tuesday after federal prosecutors wrote to him last week, saying that in light of Mr. Epstein’s death, they planned to drop the criminal charges against him — a decision that requires a judge’s approval. Noting the intense public interest in the case, he invited victims to speak.

“I believe it is the court’s responsibility, and manifestly within its purview, to ensure the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity,” he said at the start of the hearing.

Prosecutors had charged that Mr. Epstein brought dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his mansion in New York and to his compound in Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005. He then engaged in sex acts with the girls during naked massage sessions, prosecutors said, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash each time.

Mr. Epstein also encouraged some of his victims to recruit additional girls who were then abused, allowing him to maintain “a steady supply of new victims to exploit,” the indictment had charged. He was indicted on charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, and if convicted, could have faced up to 45 years in prison.

The judge, in a brief order, said he wanted to hold the hearing because the public might still have an “interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment.”

The judge did not elaborate, but his statement seemed to acknowledge the extraordinary public interest in the questions surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death and the future of the government’s broader investigation into his associates.

Judge Berman said in the order that he wanted to hear from the prosecution and the lawyers who had been representing Mr. Epstein, and he also invited Mr. Epstein’s accusers and their lawyers to address the court if they wished to.

As if to underscore the wide interest in the matter, the hearing was moved from the judge’s regular courtroom to a much larger one that is typically used for the high-profile cases.

Mr. Epstein was found dead around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10 after apparently hanging himself with a bedsheet in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was being held pending trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Law enforcement officials say he had not been checked on for about three hours, a violation of jail protocol. The city medical examiner said on Aug. 16 that it had determined Mr. Epstein died by suicide.

The news of Mr. Epstein’s death — and the circumstances surrounding it — sent shock waves through the justice system and prompted an outcry in Congress and investigations by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Attorney General William P. Barr called the shortcomings at the jail “serious irregularities,” and pledged to determine why Mr. Epstein was apparently left unsupervised just weeks after he was taken off suicide watch after an apparent initial attempt at killing himself on July 23.

“We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability,” Mr. Barr said after Mr. Epstein’s death.

Paris Prosecutor Opens Investigation in Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

Aug. 23, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_159253758_9654d830-3dfe-4eef-bb88-064677a4640c-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts
Inmate 76318-054: The Last Days of Jeffrey Epstein

Aug. 17, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_159070062_f82feb6f-7bff-41e7-9777-9b7b8486f8e6-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts
The Sisters Who First Tried to Take Down Jeffrey Epstein

Aug. 26, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00epstein-farmer01-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing prostitution Palm Beach (Fla) Manhattan (NYC) human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Decisions and Verdicts

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A Group of Chicago Teachers Union Members Travels to Venezuela & Reports The Shocking Findings: It’s Fantastic!

Westlake Legal Group venezuela-991906_1280-620x349 A Group of Chicago Teachers Union Members Travels to Venezuela & Reports The Shocking Findings: It’s Fantastic! wttw Venezuela unions Uncategorized socialism sarah chambers prostitution jesse sharkey Illinois Front Page Stories Featured Story Education democrats chicago tonight Chicago Teachers Union Chicago Allow Media Exception Academia

 

 

The world of politics is a constant reminder that not everyone draws the same conclusions.

So is — incidentally — green bean casserole.

That stuff is nasty.

Anyway, here’s another case in point:

Three Illinois educators and a union organizer recently crowdfunded a trip to that most desirable of vacation destinations, Venezuela.

In response to what they saw, the Chicago Teachers Union crew praised the beleaguered nation on social media.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune Monday, during their South American romp, they met government officials and teachers and visited a commune. They even got local media coverage.

Stuff they admired: the country’s literacy rates, those fabulous communes…and its socialist system.

Not everyone’s psyched about their portrayal.

From the Tribune:

[C]ritics say the group glossed over Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crises and were excessively complimentary of President Nicolás Maduro, whose administration has been accused in recent United Nations reports of “grave” human rights violations and violence against dissenters.

Count teacher and union member Karen Moody among the nay-sayers. Here’s what she had to offer:

“I am appalled a delegation representing themselves as CTU went to Venezuela, not to support striking teachers, not to object to human rights violations, but to go on what appears to be a state-chaperoned propaganda tour.”

However, union President Jesse Sharkey assured WTTW’s Chicago Tonight that the trip wasn’t sanctioned in any way:

“Members go all kinds of places in the summer. This was neither an official trip nor something that was funded by the union. This is a group of people who are members of the CTU who decided to go to Venezuela.”

That’s all well and good, but how does he explain the union’s Twitter account retweeting the group’s updates? One blog entry was titled “Introduction to CTU Delegation to Venezuela.”

Here’s a message passed along by the union’s page, courtesy of CTU traveler Sarah Chambers — who’s also a member of the board:

“While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person. USA is the richest country in the world; yet, there are homeless people everywhere. Over 17k CPS students are homeless… This is why @CTULocal1 is fighting for fair housing #CTUAgainstVezIntervention.”

They’re fighting!

How about a fight against children prostituting themselves, and straight men working as gay hookers? That’s also happened in Venezuela, thanks to the swell system — see here.

In response to an online critic, Sarah defended her favorable review of the big V by touting her analytical mind:

“Have you visited Venezuela & spoke to 100s there? As a teacher, I teach my students to be critical thinkers, to get primary sources, listen to ppl’s stories & do research before just believing any news. I suggest you do the same.”

One GoFundMe donor saluted the CTU strike at “imperialism”:

“Proud of the CTU for their brave and visionary anti-imperialist resolution and enactment of ‘teacher-to-teacher’ solidarity between Chicago and Venezuelan teachers!”

Speaking to Fight Back! News, Sarah also bragged on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for his stellar job:

“Through major economic hardships, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro never closed a single public school or a single health clinic. This stands in stark contrast to our experience in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools and several mental health clinics in a single year.”

As pointed out by The Daily Wire, the blog reporting all the glories of a nation that’s struggled to find the radical modernity of toilet paper was named the Radical Educator Collective.

It’s radical alright.

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

FBI Arrests Alleged Would-Be Neo-Nazi Terrorist Before He Can Commit Mass Murder At A Las Vegas Synagogue

Hollywood’s Rosanna Arquette Apologizes For Being White. She Announces Her Shame & Disgust Over Her Birth

Brazilian Gang Leader & Drug Trafficker Attempts A Prison Break In One Of The Craziest & Most Hilarious Ways Possible

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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