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Jeffrey Epstein is gone, but allegations against powerful associates linger

In this July 30, 2008 file photo, Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. Epstein has died by suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, says person briefed on the matter, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Uma Sanghvi)
Published Aug. 10

The sudden death of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday leaves loose ends, now unlikely to be resolved, in the investigation into the sex-trafficking network he allegedly ran with the help of associates, including British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

Even before his death, with Epstein behind bars for the past month, some of the focus had shifted to others who either were aware of or possibly participated in the exploitation of underage girls and young women. Epstein traveled the world, often with an entourage of young women, and maintained homes in Palm Beach, Manhattan, Paris, New Mexico and on his private island in the Caribbean.

Epstein's social and political circuit included an array of the world's top scientists, politicians and world leaders. They are now part of the ever-growing scandal over a sex-trafficking case that has already toppled the career of Alexander Acosta, President Trump's labor secretary, who resigned in July over his controversial handling of Epstein's criminal case when he was a federal prosecutor in 2008.

Some of Epstein's friends are now coping with unproven accusations that they had sex with one or more of the girls and young women the multimillionaire money manager groomed and trained as part of his alleged sex-trafficking operation. The accusations were tucked into brief references and footnotes in thousands of pages of court records unsealed Friday from a lawsuit brought by Epstein's self-described teenage sex slave, Virginia Giuffre, in 2015.

Giuffre sued Maxwell in 2015 for defamation after Ghislaine Maxwell issued a series of public statements labeling her a liar. In 2011, Giuffre told the Daily Mail that Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused her and pimped her out to other wealthy businessmen, politicians, academics and world leaders when she was 17 years old.

The evidence in the federal civil case was originally filed under seal, but was unsealed Friday by the court in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the Miami Herald and joined by an array of other news organizations. Two other parties, Epstein's former lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, and social media blogger Michael Cernovich, were also part of an effort to unseal at least some of the court papers.

In the lawsuit, Giuffre claimed she was forced to have sex with a "large amount of people," some of whom had not previously been named including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Senator George Mitchell, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, the late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, Epstein's lawyer, Dershowitz, Prince Andrew, another unnamed prince, plus "a well-known Prime Minister."

The allegations have been universally denied, including on Friday when the records were released.

Some of the men, like Richardson, had accepted political contributions from Epstein, a multimillionaire money manager who initially escaped federal charges in the case in 2008.

Giuffre also testified in a sworn deposition that President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton were both friends of Epstein, but she did not accuse either of them of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior. Clinton once "flirted" with her, Giuffre said, but Trump did not.

Epstein's death came prior to discovery in the latest sex trafficking case brought against him in New York, where any of the men named by Giuffre could have, conceivably, been summoned to appear as witnesses.

Giuffre was recruited by Maxwell at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, where she worked part time as a spa assistant in 2000. Giuffre claimed that, around her 17th birthday, she was sitting in the Mar-a-Lago spa, reading a book when Maxwell approached her, asking her to work as a personal masseuse for Epstein, according to court records.

Giuffre had a horrifying background. At age 13, long before meeting Epstein, she had run away from home and was trafficked to pedophiles on the streets of South Florida. She says she was excited by the prospect of traveling and learning a career so she eagerly accepted the offer and started work almost immediately. She had no idea of the abuse that awaited her.

Giuffre, who went public in 2011, was initially mistaken about the year that she met Epstein, recalling incorrectly that she was a year younger at the time. Subsequently, she learned through official employment records from the club that her timeline was off, according to the records. Maxwell pointed to the inconsistency in her defense — something Giuffre's attorneys mocked in the court papers as Maxwell's "yes-I'm-a-sex-trafficker-but-only-of-sixteen-year-old-girls" defense.

Giuffre and Maxwell, who has not been charged criminally, settled the case in 2017 shortly after the federal judge threw out Maxwell's motion for summary judgment. But the same judge had agreed to seal nearly the entire file, leaving lingering questions about whether Maxwell and Epstein had been involved in an international sex trafficking operation.

Maxwell, in a deposition, emphatically denied all allegations that she procured girls or young women for Epstein, and said she barely remembered Giuffre. At one point during the deposition, Maxwell pounded her fist on a table in anger over the lawsuit, through she later apologized and regained her composure.

All of the men whose names came up in the released documents have denied her account, and many said they have never met Giuffre, who turned 36 on Friday. Giuffre's assertions were central to the case against Epstein, who was arrested in July and charged with child sex trafficking in New York.

One of the men, Miami modeling recruiter Jean-Luc Brunel, sued Epstein in 2015, claiming that the publicity over Epstein's case damaged his reputation and business. According to the 2015 complaint, Epstein's original conviction — he served 13 months in jail 10 years ago after pleading guilty to minor prostutition charges — cost Brunel $10 million in potential profits when he was "widely implicated in the media as being 'linked' to Epstein." At the time, Brunel claimed all implied connections to Epstein's sex trafficking operation were "false stories."

However, exhibits in the documents unsealed Friday suggest Brunel participated in Epstein's exploitation of underage women. Copies of a message pad, where Maxwell and others allegedly wrote down messages left for the multimillionaire, included two from Brunel.

One message left for Epstein from Brunel read: "He [Brunel] has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak Russian. She is 2X8 years old not blonde. Lessons are free and you can have your 1st today if you call." According to the record, "2X8" is a reference to a 16-year-old.

Brunel's attorneys did not respond to the Herald's request for comment.

The trove of documents also provides more insight into allegations that Prince Andrew — Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York — was provided underage girls by Epstein and Maxwell. According to Giuffre, Maxwell was acting as a "madam" for Epstein when she allegedly asked Giuffre to have sex with Prince Andrew in Maxwell's London apartment. Giuffre said she had sex with the prince at three separate "geographical locations."

In a sworn statement, Maxwell's attorney, Philip Barden, called Giuffre's claim that she had sex with Andrew in London one of Giuffre's "obvious lies" in part because "the sex occurred in what can only be described as a very small bathtub, too small for a man of Prince Andrew's size to enjoy a bath in let alone sex."

In a photograph taken in the London apartment at the time, Andrew's hand is around Giuffre's bare mid-drift, as he posed with Giuffre, who was wearing a tiny spaghetti strap tank top. Barden did not explain the photo.

During another alleged encounter with the prince at Epstein's New York apartment, Andrew, Maxwell and Giuffre were joined by Johanna Sjoberg, another woman who claimed she was recruited by Maxwell. According to Sjoberg's testimony, that night Maxwell produced a puppet of Prince Andrew, which she gave to Giuffre, and then placed the puppet's hand on the teen's breast. Sjoberg, who was over the age of 18, said she sat on Andrew's lap.

"They took the puppet's hands and put it on Virginia's breast, and so Andrew put his on mine," Sjoberg said.

A photo was snapped, she said, though Sjoberg added she never saw a copy of it.

Few details are included in the allegation against New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former Democratic presidential candidate, other than that "Maxwell directed" Giuffre to have sex with Richardson. Richardson denied the allegations through a spokeswoman.

"These allegations and inferences are completely false," said Madeleine Mahony, a spokeswoman in a written statement. "Governor Richardson has never even been contacted by any part regarding this lawsuit. To be clear, in Governor Richardson's limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein's residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre."

Named in the same brief mention as Richardson were Marvin Minsky, the late cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence lab, and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine.

In a statement to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, Mitchell denied the allegations.

"I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre," Mitchell told the Press Herald. "In my contacts with Mr. Epstein I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls. I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida. We have had no further contact."

In 2008, Time Magazine listed Mitchell as one of the 100 most powerful people in the world.

Minsky died in January 2016. His estate has put out no statement regarding the allegations.

Giuffre said the first powerful man that Epstein directed her to have sex with was hedge fund giant Glenn Dubin, who is married to Eva Andersson Dubin, Epstein's former girlfriend. Dubin's former houseman, Rinaldo Rizzo, alleged that a 15-year-old Swedish girl, who worked for Dubin and his wife, returned from Epstein's private island visibly shaken. Rizzo testified that the girl explained through her tears that Maxwell threatened her when she refused to have sex with Epstein. She claimed her passport was taken by Sarah Kellen, another woman who worked for Epstein.

A spokesman for the Dubins issued the following statement:

"Glenn and Eva Dubin are outraged by the allegations in the unsealed court records, which are demonstrably false and defamatory. The Dubins have flight records and other evidence that definitively disprove that any such events occurred," the spokesman, Devin Broda, said.

Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker was mentioned by name just once in a footnote, however the records included repeated mentions of Giuffre's allegation that she had been sent overseas to "have sex with the owner of a large hotel chain."

In the court documents, Giuffre alleges Maxwell arranged for her to be with hotel-chain owner one time in France, "around the same time that Naomi Campbell had a birthday party."

She said they had sex in a cabana that was part of a hotel, and that both Epstein and Maxwell were staying there at the time.

A spokesperson for Hyatt did not immediately return the Herald's request for comment.

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