66-year-old hedge fund manager and convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday on multiple counts of alleged sex trafficking and abuse of minors. The billionaire, who received a slap on the wrist sentence for his previous conviction, and is seen by many as a symbol of the corruption of the US criminal justice system.
Little Black Book of Presidents, Rock Stars and Royalty
The list of politicians, monarchs, and celebrities who once called Epstein friends or attended his parties is staggering, with 97 pages from an address book submitted in court in 2015 including the names, phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses of some of the most powerful and influential people in the world.
Featuring prominently in the contact details was former US President Bill Clinton and members of his staff, for whom Epstein had a total of 21 numbers. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who had a public friendship with Epstein, was also on this list, with 16 separate phone numbers for the prince and another 18 for Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.
Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana and daughter Ivanka were also listed in Epstein’s phonebook, with Trump himself known to have attended parties at the billionaire’s estates in the 1990s. In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine Epstein was “a lot of fun to be with” and that “he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
Other high-profile names in the book included members of the Kennedy family, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, former US senator George Mitchell, billionaires Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch, designer Tom Ford, rock stars Mick Jagger and Courtney Love, movie stars Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Elizabeth Hurley, journalist Barbara Walters, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, along with many others.
Some celebrities, including journalists Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos and film director Woody Allen, were known to have attended parties hosted by Epstein even after he was released from jail following his sex crimes conviction in 2008. In 2015, flight logs from Epstein’s private plane, which made regular trips to his private island in the US Virgin Islands, were shown to have flown in other big names to the billionaire’s homes, including well-known attorney Alan Dershowitz, model Naomi Campbell, and former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers.
Slap on the Wrist Jail Term
In 2008, Epstein made a plea deal with Florida prosecutors, pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a single underage girl and sentenced to 18 months in prison following a years-long FBI investigation. He went on to serve only 13 months of the sentence, was allowed to leave jail six days a week for work, and was held at a private wing of his Florida prison. After his release, he was subject to a year of house arrest, but allowed to fly back and forth to and from his properties along the Eastern Seaboard.
More Allegations Emerge, Along With Plea Deal Details
In 2015, a 31-year-old woman named Virginia Roberts signed a sworn affidavit stating that she had been held as a ‘sex slave’ by Epstein between 1999 and 2002, beginning when she was 17 years old, and that she had been peddled by the billionaire to several of his friends, including Prince Andrew and Dershowitz. After months of media controversy, Epstein made an out-of-court settlement with Roberts, who accused the FBI of a “major cover-up” to protect Epstein and his friends.
In late 2018, the Miami Herald published a groundbreaking investigation accusing Secretary of Labour Alexander Acosta, who served as the US Attorney for Southern Florida during Epstein’s plea-bargaining negotiations in 2008, of lenient treatment in the billionaire’s plea deal and incarceration.
According to the Herald, Acosta “didn’t just buckle under pressure from Epstein’s lawyers” during the 2008 plea deal agreement, but “worked with them to contain the case –even as the FBI was uncovering evidence of a wider sex trafficking operation.”
Crucially, the newspaper noted, the deal enabled Epstein to avoid federal charges, immunized all co-conspirators from prosecution, and allowed him to settle lawsuits from his close to three dozen alleged victims. Before the deal was reached, the FBI reportedly compiled a 53-page indictment on Epstein’s sex crimes which would have been enough to send him to prison for life.
In early 2019, the Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Epstein case, ruling his non-prosecution agreement unconstitutional. Late last month, the DoJ ultimately rejected efforts to throw the plea deal out, upholding its validity.
However, on Saturday night, Epstein was arrested in New York and accused of the trafficking and abuse of dozens of girls he knew were underage at his homes in New York State and Florida between 2002 and 2005. The new indictment against him will be opened in court on Monday.
Attorney David Boies, who represents several of Epstein’s accusers, said Saturday’s arrest has “been a long time coming,” and that it is “an important step toward getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.”