This is the first time a government has sued Epstein’s estate, which is estimated at more than $ 500 million. The lawsuit, first reported by the New York Times, extends the time frame of Epstein’s alleged criminal activity years beyond the abuses that occurred in the early 2000s.
In July, federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Epstein of sex trafficking on charges that he abused dozens of girls in New York and Florida and enlisted his victims to recruit others. Epstein, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, committed suicide in his prison cell the following month, and two workers at the detention center were accused of falsifying records of regular checks on him.
The lawsuit claims that Epstein relied on a deliberately intricate network of ghost companies, some of which prosecutors have not identified, to hide trafficking and abuse of women and girls “dozens of times in almost two decades.” He bought the island of Little St. James in 1998 to take advantage of its isolation, the lawsuit says. Little St. James is almost two miles from St. Thomas and can only be accessed by boat or helicopter.
In 2016, according to the lawsuit, Epstein used a fake buyer to hide his identity and buy the nearby Great St. James Island for more than $ 20 million. According to the lawsuit, his collaborators wanted to make sure that Great St. James visitors could not see what was happening in Little St. James.
It is said that Epstein took advantage of the financial needs of girls and women by promising them professional opportunities and educational assistance. He attracted some on the pretext of offering them modeling opportunities and told others that he would pay a substantial sum to massage him and others, the lawsuit says. He allegedly used private planes, helicopters, ships and cars to take them to their islands.
To prevent his victims from escaping, the lawsuit says, Epstein confiscated his passports, eliminated external communications and threatened to hurt them. He told the girls’ families that he was taking good care of them and that they were receiving financial support through college and other educational opportunities, according to the lawsuit. It is also alleged that he kept records on his computer with the contact information of his victims.
Epstein’s pattern of sexual abuse worked as a pyramid scheme in which his victims were forced to meet with other girls and women at least three times a day, the lawsuit says. Victims were paid for these meetings and received extra money if they brought more girls to Epstein, according to the lawsuit.
In one case, a 15-year-old girl who had been forced to have sexual encounters with Epstein tried to escape by swimming in Little St. James, according to the lawsuit. Epstein organized a search group and forced her to stay confiscating her passport, the lawsuit says. When another victim tried to leave, the search party allegedly took her back to Epstein and threatened to hurt or physically restrain her if she did not cooperate.
Epstein successfully concealed his alleged illegal activities of the police by requiring people working for him to sign confidentiality agreements, the lawsuit says. Investigators who attempted to perform routine verifications of addresses of sex offenders in Little St. James could not get past the island’s pier, which Epstein called its “front door,” according to the lawsuit. Epstein also referred to the authorities’ visits to Great St. James to monitor the construction as “invasions.”
George, the prosecutor, said in the lawsuit that Epstein and his associates had made the Virgin Islands seem an ideal place to hide human trafficking and sexual crimes.
“The behavior of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates shocks conscience and betrays the deepest principles and laws of the US Virgin Islands,” he told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. “The Virgin Islands are not, and will not be, a safe haven for human trafficking or sexual exploitation.”
The lawsuit seeks to revoke Epstein’s property claim for properties in the Virgin Islands, force its employees to lose the money they made from the alleged activity and demand the dissolution of their phantom companies.
The state co-executors, Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, could not be reached for comment. They published a statement saying that the inheritance “is administered in accordance with the laws of the US Virgin Islands,” the AP reported. They also refuted George’s claim to reporters that Epstein’s victims must remain silent about their accusations to benefit from a voluntary compensation fund.
“The suggestion that the program was intended to hide any information or protect anyone from liability or accountability is unfounded, directly contrary to the details of the proposed and false program,” said the statement, according to the AP.