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When wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in 2006 following an investigation into his sexual activities with teenage girls, the case ended in a lenient plea bargain, in which Epstein only served 13 months. in a county jail..
Eleven years later Miami Herald Journalist Julie K. Brown has decided to reconsider the case, which she calls “a horrible miscarriage of justice.”
“I wanted to do an investigative report on sex trafficking in general. And every time I Google ‘sex trafficking in Florida’, frankly, another Jeffrey Epstein story came up,” Brown said. “But none of the stories I read seemed to answer exactly how he got away with what he did.”
Brown looked at the files from the original police investigation and spoke to detectives who had developed evidence against Epstein. She also regained 80 survivors, many of whom allege repeated abuse as teenagers at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion.
“This is the only thing I found that was missing in the [original] story, that none of the female voices were in any of the stories I’ve read, ”Brown says. “There is nothing more powerful than the words of the women who spoke about it themselves. And I’m still a little choked when I think about how brave they’ve been to [speak out]. “
Brown’s 2018 series for the Herald garnered national attention and led to the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who endorsed the previous plea bargaining. It also sparked an investigation that put Epstein behind bars on new federal charges. A month after this arrest, Epstein died of suffocation in his cell. Although the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City said it was a suicide, Epstein’s death continues to inspire conspiracy theories.
Brown revisits case and his two-year investigation of Epstein in new book Perversion of justice.
“In this book, I further explain the scope and breadth of the story so that readers can see the patterns in the whole of how Epstein’s facilitator network helped him,” she says. “He didn’t do this alone. He had a whole ecosystem that he created that made it happen.”
On how Epstein specifically wanted young girls
He had enough money to have the best prostitutes he wanted, but he didn’t want that. He wanted scared young girls. It was all part of his fantasy. So it’s just from that. And unfortunately there were probably hundreds of girls who were victimized by him. …
It was two to three times a day. It was like a revolving door. And the more daughters he had, the more daughters he wanted to recruit, because he also wanted new girls all the time. He wanted fresh young girls all the time. So was that just enough that he had three that he took advantage of all the time he wanted a continuous parade of young girls.
How many daughters depended on Epstein because they had difficult family circumstances
He basically prepared them to believe that he was going to get them out of the misery of their lives. Many of them had difficulty [lives]. Some of them were in foster homes. Their parents were on drugs. There were all kinds of circumstances they came from. But the common thread was that they didn’t really have a strong family life at home. And he knew it. He studied them. He asked them questions about their lives. So he found out exactly what their Achilles heel or their vulnerabilities were. And he would say to them, “Do you want to study this? Do you want to be a model? I’ll help you be a model. And then they look on the walls of his house and he has pictures with Bill Clinton and all kinds of famous and powerful people. And they really believe he was going to help them. … They have come to depend on him. They didn’t have a family life at home, a solid anchor in their own life – and he became a anchor for them.
On how Epstein and his team weren’t worried about Brown’s reporting first
I contacted his lawyers quite early. Initially, I didn’t give them a lot of details about what I was doing, other than reviewing the file. And I didn’t hear anything. And then, as I got closer to publishing the article, I told them that I had spoken to some of the victims and described some of what the show was going to say. I sent certified letters to almost everyone in the story I wrote about, all the lawyers and all of its facilitators, so to speak.
And I didn’t hear anything from Epstein at all. [I] knocked on his door. I was told he was not home – we knew he was home. But I think he underestimated what I was doing. There had been other stories written that hadn’t put him in jail, so to speak. You know, that didn’t grab the attention. And I think he just figured out that it’s just another story and it’s not going to do anything.
On Epstein’s legal team’s argument that victims weren’t really victims
[They argued] that it was consensual, that they were prostitutes. And at the time this matter happened, quite frankly, there was still a law in effect in Florida. [that said that] child prostitution was illegal – not by pimps, but [for] the girls involved or the boys involved. … Part of the thing the prosecutors used to excuse the fact that they were not going through with the case was that they were telling the girls, “You understand that what you did was illegal.” And in a way, [the prosecutors] sabotaged their own case because they gave victims the impression that they might be in trouble. …
[Victims] said that … they were very scared because at the same time that this was happening, the FBI was giving them the impression that they might have broken the law, you have Epstein and his investigators and his lawyers from the other side who dig into their lives and follow their parents. … This is not the kind of thing that would make a victim want to cooperate with the authorities. And it all played into what exactly Epstein wanted.
Epstein’s death in August 2019 was ruled a suicide, though it remains a mystery and is the subject of conspiracy theories
There are just too many weird things surrounding his death. And part of the problem, I think, is that the authorities haven’t been transparent about what they know and what they don’t know. We haven’t seen the autopsy. We know from his brother, who himself said he didn’t believe Jeffrey had committed suicide, that there were some weird aspects to the way he was found. It was strange that, for example, he was on suicide watch when this happened. They put him back in his cell and there is no video footage there. You have [not] a guard who would have slept behind the wheel, but you have two, which is very unusual. I’ve covered jail deaths for a very long time, and you hear about guards falling asleep and things going on, but rarely hear about two guards falling asleep at the same time or being distracted at the same time. …
We don’t even really know the scope of [Epstein’s] Connections. … We know he had pretty much a lot of information that could involve people – not only maybe on aspects of sex trafficking, but, you know, he was basically a fund manager who helped some of our people. richest people in the world to hide their money. So he also knew how people got their money and where they hid it. And there were certainly a lot of people who had a motive to kill him. I tend to think that it is possible that he had someone help him. It could be an assisted suicide, for example. So I think the bottom line is that it’s still not really determined. I think it needs to be studied further.
Sam Briger and Seth Kelley produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the web.