Jeffrey Epstein and his protectors, exposed

PERVERSION OF JUSTICE: The Jeffrey Epstein Story by Julie K. Brown (2021)

Jeffrey Epstein was a rapist and a pimp.  He sexually abused young girls and trafficked them out to be abused by others.  

Yet for years he was shielded from criminal charges by his wealth and by his network of rich and powerful protectors.  

We the public may never know the names of Epstein’s clients.  But thanks to the reporting of Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald, we do know some other things..

Her book, Perversion of Justice, touches on many aspects of the Epstein case, but the high points are how he used his wealth and connections to shield himself from prosecution for his crimes, and how he used seduction, blackmail and threats to trap young girls into sexual bondage.

She began her investigation in 2017 when Alex Acosta was nominated by President Trump to be Secretary of Labor.  Back in 2008, when Acosta was U.S. attorney for southern Florida, he signed a non-prosecution agreement that allowed Epstein to get off with a wrist slap in return to pleading guilty to trafficking young girls.

The fact that Epstein was prosecuted at all was due to the dogged persistence of Palm Beach Chief of Police and Detective Joe Recarey (who is deceased).  When they began to interview young girls victimized by Epstein, it seemed like an open-and-shut case, but they met resistance every step of the way.

Epstein was a social friend of the mayor of Palm Beach.  He donated expensive equipment to the Palm Beach Police Department and created a scholarship fund for children of police.  He was one of the leading members of the city’s social elite, and he was a lavish giver of gifts and donations to charity..

Epstein’s legal team consisted of Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and high-profile lawyer; Kenneth Starr, the former special prosecutor who brought about the impeachment of President Bill Clinton; and Jay Lefkowitz, a former senior adviser to both Presidents Bush.

He also hired a local lawyer, Jack Goldberger.  That resulted in an aggressive prosecutor, Dahlia Weiss, being pushed off the case, because her husband was one of Goldberger’s law partners.

The defense team gathered information about the girls Epstein had seduced, often looking at their social media and visiting them at their homes, trying to paint them as the seducers or at least as willing.  

One young woman phoned Recarey and told him Epstein’s investigators asked her about things that she had told him that she thought were confidential.  How did the investigator get access to that information? she asked. 

Reiter and Recarey got a search warrant for Epstein’s mansion, but when they got there, it had been stripped clean. Six computer hard drives had been removed.  Video surveillance cameras had been disconnected and the video recordings and other electronic data removed.  Nude photos of young girls that. had adorned the walls had been removed.

They never figured out who told Epstein of the warrant.

Palm Beach County prosecutor Barry Kirschner chose to take the case to a grand jury, although this wasn’t necessary.  He also chose to prosecute only one case, although Recarey had collected information on 14.

The FBI separately prepared a 53-page indictment accusing Epstein of sexually abusing 34 girls.  But Acosta agreed to a non-prosecution agreement not only for Epstein, but for anyone else involved in the case, in return for Epstein agreeing to a token punishment.

None of the victims were notified of the non-prosecution agreement, as required by law.

Epstein was sentenced to 18 months on the Palm Beach County Jail on one count of soliciting a prostitute and one of of procuring a child for prostitution.  He was released five months early.

He was exempted from having to register as a sex offender, wearing an ankle bracelet or taking part in sex offender treatment—all possible violations of the law.  

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw allowed Epstein a private cell in which the door was unlocked and he was allowed to sleep with the lights off.  He was given “work release” permission to spend the day in his private office, where he browsed the Internet, made phone calls and otherwise did as he pleased. Epstein left the office frequently for medical appointments.

Deputies sat outside and logged his visitors.  They referred to him as a “client” and not a prisoner.  Possibly that’s because Epstein gave the Sheriff’s Department $128,000 to cover the extra cost of looking after him.

All this was a cold case by the time Brown took it up.  She tracked down young women who’d been abused by Epstein and got some of them to tell their stories.  This involved figuring out the identities of persons whose names were redacted in court documents, using social media and following up tips.

She also had more empathy for the victims than many of the male investigators.  She herself was the daughter of a single mother, and had been on her own since the age of 16.  She could understand how a teenage girl could be seduced by a smooth-talking older man with money, and how she could feel trapped and powerless once she was in the man’s clutches.

The girls would typically be offered a large sum of money to go to Epstein’s mansion and give him a massage.  They would then find themselves alone in a room with Epstein.  He would strip, demand they undress and have sex with him.  Some other girl or older woman would tell them that what was happening was normal.  Then they would be given money, driven home and warned to tell no-one.

Typically the girl would be alienated from her family and have nobody in whom to confide.  Or, alternatively, the girl would be terrified and ashamed to tell anyone what happened.  Soon they would fall into a pattern, and sometimes become recruiters for other young girls.  It was a system.

Some sunk into addiction and prostitution.  Some started new lives, and did not want to tell anyone of their past.  It took Brown to persuade victims that they had a duty to stop Epstein from victimizing even more young women.

Her series of articles on the case, published in 2018, let loose an avalanche.  Acosta resigned the following year.  A lawsuit on behalf of victims moved forward.  Jean-Luc Brunel, owner of a modeling agency in who allegedly procured young women to Epstein, was indicted in France.

Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for New York City, opened a new investigation  of Epstein; he explicitly credited Brown’s reporting from prompting his action.  It didn’t violate the non-prosecution agreement because it involved other, newer victims.

As a result, Epstein was charged and arrested.  He was found dead in his cell, allegedly by suicide.  His partner Ghislaine Maxwell has also been charged.  

Of the rich celebrities who associated with Epstein, only one, Prince Andrew, has been sued by an alleged victim.  [Update 2/6/2022: The original version said he had been charged.  No criminal charge was filed against him.]

But the fact that he, along with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Leon Black, Lex Wexner and other prominent people, knowing his reputation, found him socially acceptable does say something about their judgment and moral standards. 

The fact that the criminal justice system has systematically covered Epstein’s tracks suggests that powerful people have something to hide.

Sex trafficking did not begin and end with Jeffrey Epstein.  I have no doubt that someone else is filling the void he left.  

The executors of Epstein’s estate set up a victim’s compensation fund.  Brown wrote that as of March, 2021, at least 175 women had filed claims and more than $67 million paid out.

Julie K. Brown (right) with her sidekick, photographer Emily Michot

Julie Brown is the divorced mother of two children whom she is putting through college.  Her employer, the Miami Herald, is struggling, and she is struggling, too.  

During her 10 years with the Herald, the staff has had to take pay cuts and furloughs without pay, just to enable the newspaper to survive.  

All the more credit to her and to the Herald, for being willing to take on someone with Jeffrey Epstein’s money and connections!

I wish I could recommend her book unreservedly, but I found it hard to read.  The narrative goes back and forth in time.  Digressions are frequent.   I wish the book had an index of names and a timeline.  Still, her reporting makes the effort worthwhile.


Inside Julie K. Brown’s Groundbreaking Reporting on Jeffrey Epstein by Dana O’Neil for RealWoman.

What the Reporter Who Broke the Jeffrey Epstein Case Had in Common With His Victims by Laura Miller for Slate.

Perversion of Justice review: How Julie K. Brown brought Jeffrey Epstein down by Lloyd Green for The Guardian.

Ken Starr helped Jeffrey Epstein with ‘scorched-earth’ campaign, book claims, by Ed Pilkington for The Guardian.

Jeffrey Epstein case: PBC state attorney worked with defense to undermine feds, report says by Jane Musgrove for the Palm Beach Post.

Who Was Jeffrey Epstein? The financier charged with sex trafficking by BBC News.

A Complete Timeline of Jeffrey Epstein’s Crimes: From Palm Beach to Prison by Erin Corbett for Refinery29 True Crime.

There Are ‘Thousands and Thousands’ of Other Documents on the Jeffrey Epstein Case by Mary Papenfuss for Slate.

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