A number of rich and powerful people are sweaty this morning.
That’s because multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested over the weekend and arraigned in federal court this week on sex trafficking charges involving dozens of young girls.
These aren’t the old sex charges Epstein faced, the ones that, thanks to his wealth and political connections, earned him what the Miami Herald described as “the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in U.S. history.”
These are new charges. New charges that carry a possible sentence of nearly 50 years. New charges that might make a 66-year-old financier want to talk about the rich and powerful people who have spun in his orbit over the past couple of decades, as accusations of Epstein preying on girls, some as young as 14, and farming them out to have sex with other wealthy men piled up.
These new charges will draw bright lights that make rich and powerful people who have something to hide feel sweaty.
If you aren’t familiar with Epstein, you’re far from alone. The fact that he managed to keep a low profile as the #MeToo movement brought a measure of justice to many lecherous, high-profile men speaks volumes of his influence, and that of his friends.
Here’s a description of the previous FBI probe into Epstein, from the Miami Herald:
“Epstein, who has homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, Paris and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, sexually abused nearly three dozen girls, mostly 13-16 years old, at his Palm Beach mansion from 1999 to 2006, according to investigators. He used the girls to help recruit other young girls as part of an operation that ran similar to a pyramid scheme. He also had recruiters who helped with his appointments, scheduling as many as three or four girls a day, the FBI probe found.”
At the time, Epstein owned an island off St. Thomas. The Herald report continues: “His plane records show that during the time he was abusing young girls, he was flying former President Bill Clinton, Harvard professors and administrators, Nobel-prize winning scientists, actresses, actors, philanthropists and a who’s who of wealthy and powerful people to his island.”
Investigators prepared a 53-page federal indictment. But that indictment was conveniently pushed aside after prosecutors reached a secret deal with Epstein.
From the New York Times:
“Prosecutors did not tell the victims about the deal they made with Mr. Epstein until after a judge approved it.
“Instead of facing life in prison, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in state court and served about a year in a Palm Beach jail, though he was allowed to leave the facility six days a week, 12 hours a day on work-release privileges.
“Mr. Epstein’s deal also shielded any co-conspirators who may have helped to arrange his sexual rendezvous and stayed in contact with his victims.”
Along with Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain was pals with Epstein. The financier also has been linked to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, and to a wealthy New York City real estate mogul named Donald Trump.
In 2002, around the same time Epstein allegedly was flying a plane that was nicknamed “the Lolita Express” to his private island and trafficking teenage girls, Trump described his friend as a “terrific guy.”
The future president told New York Magazine: “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
Who helped Epstein land the secret nonprosecution agreement that gave him a mere slap on the wrist? It was Alexander Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Where is Acosta now? He’s President Trump’s labor secretary, running the federal department that oversees human trafficking laws.
Funny how life works sometimes, isn’t it?
It may be a while before we know the scope of evidence that federal investigators have against Epstein. And it remains to be seen which of Epstein’s friends and associates, if any, might get sucked into this grotesque vortex.