Since Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest last week, we’ve been inundated with disturbing revelations about how he allegedly abused underage girls for years in plain sight. The case is full of horrifying details, from Epstein’s elite social circle, to his private “Pedophile Island,” to his friendship with Donald Trump. But the part of the story that’s often missing is the voices of Epstein’s accusers.
This is partly by design. Epstein and his lawyers have worked for years to keep his victims out of the press. According to the Miami Herald, Epstein’s accusers have already filed two-dozen lawsuits against him, some dating back at least as far as 2009. None of these suits ever went to trial; Bloomberg reported this week that Epstein settled some of them for over $1 million apiece. In the past, Epstein’s lawyers have also tried to discredit his victims — many of whom are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds — by claiming that the girls lied about their ages or made up allegations to extract money.
Epstein’s 2008 plea deal — which allowed him to avoid federal prosecution by pleading guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in a Florida state court — was negotiated in secret, without informing Epstein’s victims. That was intentional: The Herald reported that Epstein’s legal team’s demands were often focused on shutting out victims to try to make the scandal go away as quietly as possible.
“As soon as that deal was signed, they silenced my voice and the voices of all of Jeffrey Epstein’s other victims,” Courtney Wild, one of Epstein’s accusers, told the Herald last fall. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Florida prosecutors broke the law by making the plea deal without the victims’ knowledge.
At Epstein’s bail hearing on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said that since Epstein’s arrest, several new alleged victims have approached investigators — and at least two more accusers have come forward since Epstein was denied bail yesterday. Here’s everything we know about Epstein’s victims.
How Many Victims Are There?
Estimates of the total number of girls allegedly abused by Epstein varies, with accounts ranging from a few dozen to over 100. The recent indictment charges Epstein with sexually exploiting and abusing “dozens” of underage girls at his homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and other locations, with allegations dating back as far as 2002. However, it seems likely that the total number of victims is much higher.
Investigations into Epstein began in 2005, after the parents of a 14-year-old girl told Palm Beach police that Epstein had molested their daughter at his home. According to the Miami Herald, by 2008, when Epstein was granted his now-infamous plea deal, federal prosecutors had identified 36 underage victims.
Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald journalist who published a series of articles on the allegations against Epstein, told the New York Times that early in the process of reporting, she received a heavily redacted police report that mentioned more than 100 Jane Does. In November 2018, Brown reported that the Herald had identified about 80 women who alleged that they were molested or sexually abused by Epstein between 2001 and 2006. Of these women, the Herald was able to locate around 60, eight of whom agreed to be interviewed.
Wild, who first met Epstein in 2002, when she was 14, told the Herald that by the time she was 16, she “had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old.” Wild said that Epstein told her he wanted girls “as young as I could find them” and that “he wanted as many girls as I could get him. It was never enough.” Other witnesses have testified in civil court that hundreds of girls were brought to Epstein’s homes.
How Many Victims Have Come Forward So Far?
Four of Epstein’s accusers spoke to the Miami Herald on the record last fall: Courtney Wild, Michelle Licata, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and Jena-Lisa Jones, who are now all in their 30s. Other accusers who have since come forward include Sarah Ransome, Maria Farmer, Annie Farmer, and Jennifer Araoz, as well as an unknown number of Jane Does. Epstein has settled lawsuits with Wild, Licata, Giuffre, and Ransome, among others. The Herald reported last week that since Epstein’s arrest, at least a dozen new victims have come forward with allegations.
Courtney Wild has been fighting for justice since 2011, when she and another anonymous victim sued the federal government to challenge Epstein’s 2008 non-prosecution agreement, claiming that, by not informing victims of the deal, prosecutors violated the Crime Victims Rights’ Act. A judge ruled in their favor earlier this year.
Wild told the Herald that at the time she met Epstein, her mother was on drugs and couldn’t provide for her. “Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless,” she said. “He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to, and he was right.” In a press conference on Tuesday, Wild urged other victims to come forward.
Michelle Licata first met Epstein when she was 16 and a sophomore at Palm Beach High School. At his Palm Beach home, Epstein took off her bra, touching her with one hand and masturbating with the other. “He kept trying to put his fingers inside me and told me to pinch his nipples,” Licata told the Herald.
Jena-Lisa Jones told the Herald that Epstein molested her when she was 14 and that she was paid $200 to give him a massage at his home; during the massage, she says, he told her to remove all of her clothing and fondled her. “If you think, at 14, $200 — that’s a lot of money at 14 years old,” Jones said in a 2018 video, adding that the other girls she knew who visited Epstein came from “trailer parks that were having gun shootings.”
Jones, now 30, said she’s been in therapy for ten years and has never told her therapist about Epstein’s abuse. “Nobody talked about it,” she said. “If I told anybody, they’d be like, You’re a whore, you wanted money, why would you do that? Nobody would understand.”
Virginia Roberts Giuffre was working at Mar-a-Lago when she was recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell to be a masseuse for Epstein. Describing her life before Epstein, she told the Herald, “I went from an abusive situation, to being a runaway, to living in foster homes.” Giuffre settled a lawsuit against Epstein in 2009. In court documents, she said she was forced to have sex with Epstein and lent out to his friends, including Prince Andrew and Epstein’s attorney and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz. In 2015, Giuffre filed a defamation lawsuit against Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged recruiter, who has repeatedly called Giuffre’s allegations “entirely false.” Maxwell settled with Giuffre, who is represented by David Boies, in 2017.
In April of this year, Giuffre filed a defamation lawsuit against Dershowitz, with whom she alleges she had sexual intercourse at least six times, starting when she was 16. Dershowitz denies this and told the Herald last fall: “I am the victim. David Boies and these women are the perpetrators. They have willfully and deliberately concocted stories in order to make money — millions and millions of dollars.” The lawsuit accuses Dershowitz of employing “a desperate barrage of false and increasingly defamatory attacks” against Giuffre.
Sarah Ransome, who says she was introduced to Epstein in 2006, when she was 22, filed an affidavit as part of Giuffre’s lawsuit against Dershowitz. Ransome alleges that, soon after meeting Epstein, he flew her to a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands and ordered her to have sex with him and various other guests. She says that Epstein lent her out to friends for sex, including Dershowitz. Ransome settled a lawsuit with Epstein and Maxwell in December.
Maria Farmer also filed an affidavit as part of Giuffre’s suit in April. She says she met Epstein and Maxwell in New York City in 1995, when she was 26 and a grad student. Farmer alleges that, the following year, the pair sexually assaulted her at Les Wexner’s mansion in Ohio and molested her underage sister at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.
Farmer says that when she went to the police after her attack, she was told to contact the FBI, which she did. “To my knowledge, I was the first person to report Maxwell and Epstein to the FBI,” Farmer stated in court. The journalist Vicky Ward has said that Farmer and her younger sister, Annie Farmer, came to her with allegations of Epstein’s predatory behavior when she was writing a profile of the financier in 2003 but that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut their claims from the piece.
Annie Farmer, Maria Farmer’s younger sister who was allegedly molested on a massage table at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch, appeared alongside Wild at Epstein’s bail hearing in Manhattan earlier this week. Farmer told the judge that she was 16 when she met Epstein in New York, and he flew her to New Mexico. “He was inappropriate with me,” she told the court, choking up.
On July 10, days after Epstein’s arrest, Jennifer Araoz appeared on the Today show, where she told Savannah Guthrie that she was 14 when a woman recruited her outside her New York City high school and introduced her to Epstein. For the next year, Araoz says she went to Epstein’s townhouse once or twice a week to massage him in her underwear. One day, Araoz says, Epstein told her to take off her underwear and get on top of him. When she declined, she says he raped her. After the attack, Araoz suffered from intense anxiety and panic attacks and dropped out of school. She says she regrets not coming forward earlier. “If I wasn’t afraid to come forward sooner, maybe he wouldn’t have done it to other girls. I feel really guilty,” she said. Araoz plans to file a suit against Epstein next month.
What About the Girls Who Were Involved in “Recruiting” Other Girls?
Epstein allegedly offered girls a “bounty” for bringing other underage girls into his orbit, which police say operated like a sexual pyramid scheme. Wild told the Herald that by the time she was 16, she had brought Epstein more than 70 girls, “all ages 14, 15, 16 … people going from eighth grade to ninth grade,” who she recruited at school parties.
Giuffre said, “All Jeffrey cared about was, just bring me more girls. To me, still to this day, it is my biggest shame that I carry around that I will never get rid of. I’m really, really sad that I brought other girls my age and even younger into a world that they should have never been introduced to.”
In 2005, when the parents of a 14-year-old who said she was molested by Epstein first went to the Palm Beach police, the girl told them that an older friend, Haley Robson, who was 19 at the time, had offered her an opportunity to make money and drove her to Epstein’s house one afternoon. When the police interviewed Robson, a local community college student, she told them that Epstein routinely paid her to bring teenage girls to his home. Robson told the girl that if Epstein asked, she should say she was 18.
Who Is Representing the Victims?
Virginia Roberts Giuffe, Sarah Ransome, Maria Farmer, and Annie Farmier are represented by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Courtney Wild and Michelle Licata are represented by Edwards Pottinger LLC, which also represents an unknown number of Jane Does. (Last week, the Herald reported that at least five victims had reached out to Brad Edwards and Palm Beach attorney Jack Scarola, both of whom have represented Epstein’s victims in the past.) Jennifer Araoz is represented by Daniel Kaiser. Lisa Bloom tweeted this week that she is representing three Epstein accusers.