The 16-year-old needed money for Christmas in 2004, and although she had no experience, she said she was hired to massage a man named Jeffrey Epstein.
Her memories were vivid when she described the events to Palm Beach, Florida, detectives a year later: His was the last house on the left of an exclusive neighborhood. Up a spiral staircase, in the bathroom of the master bedroom, she said he directed her to undress. He remarked she was “beautiful and sexy.” He unsnapped her bra, rubbed her chest and asked her if it was something she enjoyed, she said.
“No, I don’t like it,” she responded, according to detectives.
Epstein continued to touch her sexually as he masturbated, she said. She felt uncomfortable. When it was over, there was $200 on the bedroom dresser.
The teen’s allegations from nearly two decades ago are told in an investigator’s typed, two-page narrative — part of a trove of unsealed court documents made public last week under the order of a federal judge in New York. While the accusation against Epstein, who died in jail in 2019, mirrors others that have been known publicly over the years, the documents released so far widen the public’s understanding of his alleged sex trafficking scheme and give greater context to the elite circles the wealthy financier moved in and the control he leveraged.
More documents — in total, hundreds of pages expected to make public the names of more than 150 people connected to or mentioned in legal proceedings related to Epstein and his network — are to be released.
“The public is now seeing our pieces of that information trickling out, allowing the general public to understand what actually happened with the sex-trafficking operation,” said Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, whose 2015 defamation lawsuit against Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell yielded many of the documents in the case. “It shows how the operation worked, it shows who participated and what the individuals had to go through during those moments.”
Giuffre’s suit was settled out of court in 2017, and while some records have been released over the years, other materials were kept sealed or with names redacted in part because of privacy concerns. But in her order last month, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska noted that many of those identities — only known in filings as corresponding J. Does — are Epstein associates and alleged victims who have since become public in other ways; still, she concluded, the names of any alleged minor victims of sexual abuse should remain withheld.
So far, the names of those unsealed have largely been known from prior public records and interviews. They include former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, who were mentioned in depositions, none of which included allegations of wrongdoing against them.
A spokesman for Clinton referred to a statement from 2019 that said he had not spoken to Epstein in over a decade and was unaware of any criminal activity at that time.
Trump did not respond to a request for comment last week, but has previously said he had not been in touch with Epstein for 15 years before his death, and in 2019, he said he was “not a fan” of Epstein’s.
Giuffre said in a deposition released last week that at different times she was directed to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, another prince, the unnamed owner of a large hotel chain and Glenn Dubin, a billionaire hedge fund manager, according to a transcript.
A request for comment from Andrew was not returned, but he has strenuously denied the claim previously. A spokesperson for Dubin in 2019 and again last week said he “strongly den[ies] these allegations” and described them as unsubstantiated statements.
What to know about the unsealed documents
- More than 110 of about 250 court records were unsealed over three days last week, and are being released on a rolling basis.
- The documents include the names of more than 150 people connected to or mentioned in legal proceedings related to Epstein and his network.
- Many names are already known publicly from other documents or interviews; some identified only have a passing connection to the case and were not part of a criminal investigation.
- Alleged minor victims’ names can remain confidential.
Another Epstein accuser, Johanna Sjoberg, who said she was recruited by Maxwell as a massage therapist while she was attending Palm Beach Atlantic College in 2001, alleged in a deposition released last week that Andrew “put his hand on my breast” when they first met.
Celebrities were not uncommon in Epstein’s orbit. Sjoberg said she met singer Michael Jackson at Epstein’s Palm Beach home, but did not massage him. Another time, magician David Copperfield was at a dinner at Epstein’s, Sjoberg said.
Copperfield performed magic tricks at the dinner, and “he questioned me if I was aware that girls were getting paid to find other girls,” Sjoberg’s deposition reads. Asked whether Copperfield described any specifics, she said no.
Copperfield did not respond to a request for comment following the release of the deposition.
The documents stitch together a familiar pattern. Females in high school or college were sought out “under the guise of a massage” by Maxwell or others and paid $200 at a time to massage Epstein at his home in Florida and elsewhere. The “work” escalated with groping and sexual acts. Some of the alleged victims would in turn recruit others, according to investigators’ reports.
The promise of money and the trappings of wealth could be alluring to these teens and young women looking for stability, said lawyer David Ring, who represents victims of sexual abuse but is not associated with the Epstein case.
“It’s like they’re stepping into quicksand, drawn into this guy’s zone of influence,” Ring said. “There’s a powerful guy, and they’re vulnerable victims. So am I going to the cops and saying, ‘Jeffrey Epstein touched me?’”
Joseph Recarey, a Palm Beach police detective who investigated Epstein in 2005, interviewed alleged victims, including the 16-year-old who needed money for Christmas. He also interviewed Alfredo Rodriguez, a former house manager for Epstein who said his boss would have two massages a day.
“He advised he didn’t ask their ages but felt they were very young,” Recarey wrote in his report, which was included in the unsealed documents. “Rodriguez stated that they ate like his own daughter who is in high school. Rodriguez stated they would eat tons of cereal and drink milk all the time.”
“He felt like there was a lot more going on than just massages,” Recarey added.
In a deposition in 2016, Recarey said he had interviewed around 33 females as part of his investigation, according to a transcript. Only two, who were older, had any massage experience, he said. Most of the girls were younger than 18.
“Each of the victims that went to the home were asked to bring their friends to the home. Some complied and some didn’t,” Recarey said.
Epstein would go on to plead guilty in 2008 to charges of soliciting a single underage victim in Florida and was required to register as a sex offender. As part of a deal, federal prosecutors agreed to not prosecute him or his enablers.
But in July 2019, then-66-year-old Epstein was arrested on multiple sex-trafficking charges from alleged incidents spanning from 2002 to 2005, after a federal judge ruled that prosecutors violated victims’ rights by not informing them of the deal.
He was found dead by suicide in his jail cell that August — the result of what federal investigators concluded last year was a cascade of misconduct, negligence and errors by staff.
Ring said Epstein’s accusers should be applauded for coming forward about him and Maxwell, who was convicted in 2021 of five federal sex-trafficking charges and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
“Without these courageous victims,” Ring said, “Epstein is still out there.”
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