Long-secret documents pertaining to billionaire hedge-fund manager Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex-trafficking scandal may soon become public as result of a new court ruling.
The documents include years-old witness interviews, legal rulings, and other court records collected in 2015, when a woman named Virginia Giuffre sued Epstein’s former partner Ghislaine Maxwell for defamation, claiming that Maxwell had publicly denied recruiting her into Epstein’s sex ring when she was just 16. While the specifics of the documents are obviously not yet public, based on Giuffre’s lawsuit, it’s likely they contain a slew of damning information about allegations that have circulated as rumors for more than a decade. According to a bombshell investigation published by the Miami Herald last November, Epstein coerced at least 80 girls to give “massages” and perform sexual acts on him and others as part of an international sex ring, which he ran out of his Palm Beach mansion and abroad.
But we still don’t yet know the extent of the allegations against Epstein. In 2008, he could have faced federal charges related to sex acts with minors, which could’ve landed him behind bars for life had he been found guilty. Instead, he got away with a lenient sentencing when Trump’s current Labor Secretary (who was then a U.S. Attorney) Alexander Acosta offered him a controversial deal, in which Epstein would plead guilty to two state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. Epstein took the deal, which landed him a mere 13-month sentence in a laid-back county jail and concealed witness testimony from the public. In 2017, the same thing nearly happened again: Giuffre’s defamation case was settled out of court, and those court orders and depositions were sealed as well.
But the specifics of Epstein’s sex ring may soon become public. On Monday, the panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit told Maxwell, Epstein’s former partner, that she has until March 19 to make a case as to why the 167 files related to the case should remain private. If Maxwell’s argument isn’t compelling, the summary judgment and supporting documents will become public.
While it’s difficult to predict the repercussions of their release, the documents could shed light on specifics surrounding the alleged trafficking ring — including about the people who helped facilitate the alleged sexual abuse and the actual logistics of running it. Because Epstein only pleaded guilty to the state charges in 2008, the exact size of the operation or who may have been involved are unknown to the public. There has been speculation for years that some of the rich and influential men who frequented his mansion — including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Prince Andrew — may have participated in the alleged abuse. (All have denied involvement.) Earlier this month, Giuffre’s lawyer also accused celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz of being part of the operation, which he has vehemently denied.
Epstein’s attorney, Martin G. Weinberg, did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comments, but he and three of Epstein’s former attorneys denied allegations that their client ran a child sex ring in a New York Times op-ed, writing that “the number of young women involved in the investigation has been vastly exaggerated, there was no ‘international sex-trafficking operation’ and there was never evidence that Mr. Epstein ‘hosted sex parties’ at his home.”
Following the the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Monday ruling, the lawyer representing the Herald and the 32 supporting media outlets that have filed to open the documents counted the move as a celebration.
“We’re grateful that the court ruled the summary judgment papers are open and they are moving to expedite having them unsealed,’’ said attorney Sanford Bohrer.