There was little Jeffrey Epstein wouldn’t do to satisfy his lust for young women and girls. It included spending millions of dollars masterminding a worldwide sex-trafficking operation. Countless innocent lives were destroyed. A year ago Epstein was arrested and a month later he died in custody. Investigators though refused to let this scandal go to the grave with him. Instead they shifted their attention to his high-profile friends. One of them is the Queen’s son, Prince Andrew, who continues to dodge requests from the FBI for an interview. But late this week there was a significant breakthrough in the case with the arrest of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. She’s accused of being Epstein’s right-hand woman and has been charged with multiple child sex offences. As Tara Brown reports, for the first time in a long time, the victims in this wicked saga are feeling relief rather than terror.
The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned.
Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.
Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case.
Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.
Local news has never been more important
Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges.
But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.
Victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse voice their outrage in court
Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order.
Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy.
Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.
Marx, a six-term elected judge, chairs Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that polices judges and handles complaints filed against judges.
The Miami Herald reached Krista Marx on her cell phone late Friday. She instructed a reporter to send her questions via text.
Shortly after, she sent the following:
“A judge is prohibited from commenting on open cases. It is a clear rule of the judicial canons. See cnn 3 (B) 9.”
Krischer did not respond to a request for comment.
Neither the attorney for the Palm Beach Post nor the criminal prosecutor handling the state probe were aware of Marx’s work for Krischer.
The attorneys would not comment on the record, but confirmed they didn’t know that Marx, a six-term elected judge, had worked as an assistant state attorney for Krischer from 1992 to 1998.
In 2012, Marx weighed running for state attorney herself, then decided against it after supporters of Aronberg, the only other candidate, indicated they would file an ethics complaint against her and also run a candidate against her husband, who was up for re-election, the Post reported at the time. Judges in Palm Beach County rarely face opposition and such reelection contests, when they do occur, are costly and time consuming.
Despite his denials, Aronberg, who won that year and has been state attorney ever since, had a “direct, personal role’’ in the events that led Marx to drop her bid, the Post found in 2012.
The Miami Herald could not reach Aronberg for comment.
The Post investigation showed that Aronberg’s campaign manager prepared a five-point public records request in an effort to obtain information detrimental to Marx. Aronberg emailed the request himself to an associate, the paper found. The issue involved soliciting political support from practicing attorneys, the Post said.
The records request was never filed, but Aronberg’s campaign manager acknowledged that he drafted the request to obtain information on Marx because she was planning to challenge Aronberg. Both the campaign manager and Aronberg, however, denied knowing anything about what the Post described as a “threat” to damage Krista Marx’s campaign.
At the time, Marx acknowledged that she was warned by political operatives that several lawyers were preparing to file an ethics complaint against her for soliciting political support from them.
“A complaint would be filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission and could entail an investigation and hearing that Marx supporters say would have stained her reputation, even if she were exonerated,’’ the Post wrote.
Aronberg, a former member of the Florida Senate and a regular commentator on MSNBC, has said he doesn’t have custody of the 2006 grand jury records. He is a close ally of Krischer, who served on Aronberg’s transitional committee and has done some unspecified “volunteer work’’ in Aronberg’s office, the Post has reported.
A spokesman for Aronberg said that Krischer is not an assistant state attorney in his office. But when asked to clarify what role, if any, Krischer has had during Aronberg’s tenure as state attorney, the spokesman did not respond.
Krischer is also a paid “volunteer’’ in Bradshaw’s sheriff’s department. Public records show he has earned over $112,000 in that capacity.
The original handling of the Epstein case a decade ago stands as a flagrant example of the corrosive effects of power, wealth and privilege on the criminal justice system. Epstein avoided prison despite dozens of young women and girls telling authorities he sexually abused them.
During Epstein’s short stint in the county jail, the multimillionaire was given expansive work-release privileges that are rarely, if ever, afforded to sex offenders in Florida. Bradshaw, one of the most powerful figures in Palm Beach politics, has denied he had a direct role in Epstein’s treatment.
The fight over the grand jury records — with its backdrop of ties between keys players — illustrates the peculiar nature of Florida politics, where behind-the-scenes power brokers and consultants, fueled by money, can decide who runs for office, which incumbents face challengers and which do not, and who is rewarded with political appointments and jobs.
“The system is one that the good ‘ol boys have built for 20 or 30 years. And now, it’s in jeopardy over this case,’’ said Jose Lambiet, a former writer for the Post who covered gossip and politics, including the Epstein scandal, for many years. He also wrote a column for the Miami Herald and is now a private investigator.
“Marx needs to recuse herself and anything that is done in the Epstein case should be in a different county.’’
In the twilight of the ceaselessly dueling courtroom gods, legacies wobble and crack.
Once, they were unquestioned giants of the legal profession. David Boies, the slayer of Microsoft’s monopoly, the man Al Gore turned to in hopes of salvaging his bid for the presidency. Alan Dershowitz, one of the intellectual bulwarks of the O.J. Simpson defense team, the tactician immortalized on the big screen for reversing the murder conviction of socialite Claus von Bülow.
But now, as they reach an age when other esteemed elder statesmen of the bar might be basking in acclaim for their life’s work, the 78-year-old Boies and the 80-year-old Dershowitz are brutally yoked in a subplot of the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case. Their link became even tighter and more complicated this past weekend when the disgraced multimillionaire was found dead of an apparent suicide at a federal detention center in New York where he was awaiting trial on new sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s death occurred the day after newly unsealed court documents claimed he had a voracious sexual appetite for underage girls and detailed the alleged methods he and his friends used to recruit them.
The clash between Dershowitz and Boies, and its offshoots, have spawned lawsuits, swarms of stinging court documents, ferocious accusations, angry television appearances, a secretly taped call and more. In this long-running melodrama, Boies and his partners at Boies Schiller Flexner represent one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre — who was a teenage locker-room attendant at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort when she met Epstein. Giuffre has alleged that Epstein demanded that she have sex with him repeatedly when she was underage and lent her for sex to his friends, including Dershowitz.
Dershowitz finds himself labeled as an alleged sex abuser in a personal affidavit by Boies, a claim he has volcanically denied. Dershowitz’s effort to counter the accusations has been made all the more nettlesome because his long-ago representation of Epstein has come under greater scrutiny following Epstein’s arrest last month. Dershowitz, an emeritus Harvard University law professor, is also fending off a defamation suit filed by Giuffre, set for key oral arguments next month, in which Boies has become a vital player.
Because Epstein’s death will end his criminal case, the Giuffre defamation action against Dershowitz could be one of the dwindling number of cases that would allow for the full public airing of numerous accusations against Epstein that his alleged victims have long sought.
As the Boies-Dershowitz conflict has dragged on, Boies, his partners and his allies have tarred Dershowitz in personal affidavits related to a bar complaint and a defamation lawsuit for allegedly bedding Giuffre when she was an underage teenager. In court filings, they portray Dershowitz, who has never been charged with a sex crime, as a liar and a sneak who secretly recorded a call with a fellow lawyer.
“After extensive consideration of everything Mr. Dershowitz told and showed me, I ultimately concluded that his denials were not credible,” Boies wrote in an affidavit included in Giuffre’s defamation suit against Dershowitz. (Giuffre sued Dershowitz because of numerous statements he made in media interviews, including calling her a “certified, complete, total liar” and saying that “she simply made up the entire story for money.”)
Meanwhile, Dershowitz has painted Boies as a corrupt attorney with a long trail of ethical lapses, a cheat and the head of a criminal enterprise.
“I believe the law firm of Boies Schiller is a RICO,” Dershowitz said in a recent interview at his New York apartment, citing the acronym used for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law frequently used against the mafia. “I believe they are the law firm of extortion, subornation of perjury and other crimes.”
Boies declined repeated interview requests and did not respond to written questions that specifically referenced the RICO allegation, as well as other assertions made by Dershowitz. Giuffre’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
Named in a court filing
The mudslinging between two of America’s most famous and celebrated attorneys tracks to the wee hours of Jan. 22, 2015, when the men were casual acquaintances and occasional confidants. Dershowitz, a ubiquitous TV presence, awoke early that morning at his New York apartment and headed to Rockefeller Center, where he was scheduled to appear on NBC’s “Today” show to discuss the sex allegations made by Giuffre.
On the way, Dershowitz seethed.
Three weeks earlier, his name had surfaced in a court filing by Giuffre, who was then known only as Jane Doe No. 3, asking to join a lawsuit related to the Epstein case. The suit alleged that Epstein’s victims hadn’t been notified in advance of a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors after the wealthy financier was arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking involving minors.
It wasn’t the substance of the complaint about victim notification that was most important to Dershowitz, though. Instead, he was incensed that the filing asserted that Giuffre had been lent to Britain’s Prince Andrew for sex and to Dershowitz, whom she alleged had sex with her at Epstein’s private island, his Palm Beach estate, his New Mexico ranch, his New York mansion and on his private plane.
Dershowitz and the prince adamantly denied the accusations at the time. Dershowitz and Buckingham Palace, speaking on behalf of Andrew, also issued strongly worded denials last week when the court documents were unsealed.
On “Today” that day in 2015, Dershowitz went nuclear. He accused Giuffre of filing “perjured” court papers and said, “She is categorically lying and making the whole thing up.”
Dershowitz has bolstered his contention that Giuffre cannot be trusted by referencing claims that she has made about having dinner with former president Bill Clinton on Epstein’s island. Dershowitz took it upon himself to investigate the Clinton allegation and to clear his name. He hired a security firm headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate.
Through Freedom of Information Act requests, the firm determined that Clinton could not have been on Epstein’s island during the time period when Giuffre said she had dinner with him. A summary of findings prepared by the Freeh firm states that the FOIA records “completely undermine [Giuffre’s] credibility.” The firm also said it found no evidence to support the sex allegations against Dershowitz.
Last week, Dershowitz also gained what might be a potent weapon in his quest to impeach Giuffre’s credibility in the newly unsealed court documents. The papers relate to a defamation suit filed against Ghislaine Maxwell, whom Giuffre and others have accused of procuring girls and women for Epstein. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2017. The records were unsealed at the request of several news organizations, including The Washington Post and the Miami Herald, which published a series of articles about Epstein’s alleged abuses prior to his recent arrest.
Among the documents was a 2011 email sent to Giuffre from Sharon Churcher, a journalist for the British tabloid the Mail on Sunday, that Dershowitz contends is proof that Giuffre was being encouraged to lie about him. The email appears to reference a book proposal Giuffre was compiling.
“Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz . . . JE’s buddy and lawyer,” Churcher writes to Giuffre in an apparent reference to Jeffrey Epstein’s initials. “Good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case . . . title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging put [sic] w JE.”
Churcher did not respond to a request for an interview.
The famed law professor’s campaign to refute Giuffre’s allegations created a pile of legal trouble because of the words he chose. While defending himself, he also cast aspersions on the character and ethics of the two attorneys representing Giuffre in her attempt to join the lawsuit related to notifying Epstein’s victims.
Dershowitz had said in a television interview that the attorneys — Florida-based Brad Edwards and former federal judge Paul Cassell — were “prepared to lie, cheat and steal.” He had described Cassell as “essentially a crook.” (Cassell and Edwards did not respond to interview requests.)
Cassell and Edwards responded in the way lawyers might be expected to — they sued him for defamation.
Despite the lawsuit, Dershowitz continued to vociferously and publicly defend himself.
In Florida, an attorney in Boies’s firm named Carlos Sires was watching “Today” when Dershowitz appeared. He reached out via email to Dershowitz offering to help him with the dispute and later discussed the possibility of representing him. (Dershowitz has said he considered Sires his attorney at that point, a contention that Sires has disputed in an affidavit attached to a bar complaint Dershowitz later filed against Boies.)
Sires also said in the affidavit that he was not aware at the time of his initial contact with Dershowitz that other lawyers in his firm were representing Giuffre in a separate case. That digital note set in motion a cascading series of events that have put Dershowitz and Boies at odds for the past four years. (Sires could not be reached for comment.)
The dispute centered on Dershowitz’s claim that Sires reviewed confidential material about the defamation case filed against Dershowitz by Edwards and Cassell. About a week later, Boies determined that there was a conflict that Sires had not known about and the firm notified Dershowitz that it couldn’t represent him.
Dershowitz was angry, concluding that the firm sneakily got inside information about his defense in order to gain an advantage, according to interviews with Dershowitz. Boies has dismissed that suggestion, saying in a personal affidavit connected to the Florida bar complaint Dershowitz later filed against him that material Sires reviewed was nothing more than a recap of Dershowitz’s public statements.
What Dershowitz didn’t know at the time was that Boies, the man who would become his nemesis, had been in contact with Giuffre for nearly six months. Boies was contacted in June 2014 by Stanley Pottinger, an attorney who was the former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, about representing Giuffre, according to an affidavit by Boies included in Giuffre’s ongoing case against Dershowitz.
Although Giuffre had two attorneys, Pottinger thought she needed more legal help because he expected her to “become the target of vicious attacks” by people she accused of sex abuse, according to an affidavit Pottinger wrote that is included in Giuffre’s ongoing case against Dershowitz.
The next month, Boies met with Giuffre in New York, according to his affidavit, and he asked Pottinger to vet Giuffre’s claims. Satisfied that she was credible, Boies agreed that his firm would take her on as a client, although he says the firm did no work related to her until November. Boies said in the affidavit that partner Sigrid McCawley represented Giuffre while she was a witness in the defamation suit filed in January 2015 by Edwards and Cassell.
Eventually, Dershowitz came to allege even darker motives for Sires’s outreach after the “Today” interview. He developed a complicated extortion theory involving Boies after being contacted in April 2015 by one of Giuffre’s friends — a woman named Rebecca Boylan — who’d seen coverage of the scandal and agreed to speak with him in a tape-recorded conversation, Dershowitz said in an interview. He played the tape for The Post, but did not let the news organization have a copy,
Boylan, according to Dershowitz’s account of the conversation, told him that Giuffre had never mentioned having sex with him. She added that Giuffre had told her she had been urged by her lawyers to name Dershowitz.
“She felt pressure to do it, she didn’t want to go after you personally,” Boylan said, according to Dershowitz’s tape of the conversation. “She felt pressured by her lawyers.”
But that wasn’t all. Boylan also said that naming Dershowitz was a step in a plan to win an enormous settlement from the founder and CEO of the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie giant. Dershowitz knew Boylan was referring to Leslie Wexner, a billionaire who was a close friend and mentor to Epstein.
“They wanted to sue him for at least half his money,” Boylan said, according to Dershowitz’s tape .
Dershowitz also claims that Boies and his firm were attempting to send a message to Wexner, whom Giuffre had not publicly accused at that point of having sex with her at the behest of Epstein, although she later would. The message, according to Dershowitz, was that Wexner would be publicly shamed, in the same way that Dershowitz had been, if he didn’t pay up.
Boies wrote in his response to Dershowitz’s Florida bar complaint that neither he nor McCawley had been involved in the decision to name Dershowitz and has denied attempting to extort Wexner. He also wrote that “no settlement demand was ever made, or even discussed with, Mr. Wexner or his counsel.”
(Wexner declined to be interviewed, and Boylan could not be reached for comment.)
A secretly taped call
Still, Dershowitz was eager to persuade Boies that he was innocent, according to interviews with Dershowitz and accounts of their interactions included in an affidavit by Boies. The two men began a series of meetings between May and July 2015, according to Boies’s affidavit.
Among the items Dershowitz showed Boies, according to Dershowitz, were detailed calendars that he cited as definitive proof that he could not have been at Epstein’s island, ranch, Palm Beach mansion or on his private plane during the time period when Giuffre said he was having sex with her. (Dershowitz keeps a massive spreadsheet handy at his New York apartment to show the reporters he’s courted to tell his version of events.)
The two lawyers have different memories of those meetings. Dershowitz has asserted in interviews with The Post that Boies told him during those meetings that Giuffre must have mistaken him for someone else. Boies wrote in his affidavit that Dershowitz’s account “is not true.” Among the data points Boies cites in his affidavit is a lie-detector test that he says Giuffre passed. (Results of such tests are seldom deemed admissible in court.)
Later in 2015, Dershowitz took the unusual step of secretly taping a call with Boies. Dershowitz played the tape, which is muffled and cuts off at points, for The Post, but did not allow the newspaper to have a copy. On the tape, Boies appears to say he and one of his partners are convinced Giuffre’s claim of having sex with Dershowitz is “wrong.” Boies said in his affidavit that he never told Dershowitz that Giuffre wasn’t telling the truth.
In Giuffre’s defamation case against Dershowitz, two of Boies’s partners assert that the taping was “a violation of the canons of ethics.” They also say Boies was merely discussing a hypothetical and that he believed all along that Giuffre was telling the truth. Dershowitz has said the taping was entirely legal because at the time he was in New York, which only requires the consent of one of the parties on the call for a legal taping.
Armed with what he thought was a plausible extortion theory and with his taped evidence, Dershowitz went to war.
In 2017, he filed the bar complaint against Boies in Florida. The document lays out his allegations about the Boies firm’s handling of the defamation case filed against him by Edwards and Cassell, and then goes on to read almost like a lengthy Wikipedia article about controversies during what he describes as the Boies firm’s “long and sordid history.” He cites a 2012 case in which a New York judge chided Boies’s firm, saying “a clearer conflict of interest cannot be imagined. A first-year law student on day one of an ethics course should be able to spot it.”
Dershowitz also summarized the controversy over a potential conflict spurred by Boies serving on the board of directors and as a lawyer for Theranos, the scandal-plagued blood-testing start-up.
The bar complaint, which was obtained by The Post, surfaced shortly after Boies was enmeshed in a major conflict-of-interest scandal in 2017 involving the famed movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was being accused in a series of sexual abuse incidents. At the time, Boies was getting a torrent of bad publicity because of the revelation in media reports that he was representing the New York Times in legal matters without telling the newspaper that he was simultaneously representing Weinstein, who was being investigated by Times reporters. Boies also secretly oversaw an effort to undermine the paper’s reporting by hiring a firm that employed former agents of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, to collect information on Times reporters and Weinstein’s alleged victims.
The Times cut ties with Boies and issued a blistering statement.
“We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters. We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe.” It added: “We never contemplated that the law firm would contract with an intelligence firm to conduct a secret spying operation aimed at our reporting and our reporters. Such an operation is reprehensible.”
Boies had signed the contract with the spy group, but later tried to distance himself from its work.
“I regret having done this,” Boies said in an email sent to his staff that was published by New York magazine. “It was a mistake to contract with, and pay on behalf of a client, investigators who we did not select and did not control. I would never knowingly participate in an effort to intimidate or silence women or anyone else. . . . That is not who I am.”
Dershowitz seized on the Times imbroglio to press his argument in public that Boies is an unethical lawyer.
“No lawyer in modern American history has ever been more credibly accused of more ethical violations than David Boies and his law firm,” Dershowitz said in a recent interview with The Post.
In 2017, Boies’s firm issued a statement in response to Dershowitz’s conflict-of-interest allegations, saying: “Over the years, there have been some bar complaints filed against Mr. Boies. Each of them was filed by an unhappy adverse party; none was filed by a client. No disciplinary action was ever taken.”
The dispute goes on
The feud between Dershowitz and Boies is well known in legal circles, where both men have earned stellar reputations over the years.
“People can have grudges and sometimes things get heated between lawyers, but based on headlines about two people I’ve worked with, who are talented, smart and committed to their clients, we just don’t have enough information to make a judgment,” said Lawrence Fox, a Yale Law professor and former chairman of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility who has worked alongside both men.
As the months have passed, one by one, Dershowitz’s broadsides against Boies and his allies have cratered. He settled the defamation case filed by Cassell and Edwards, Giuffre’s attorneys, before Boies and his partners came on the scene.
Earlier this year, the Florida bar complaint against Boies got tossed out.
But their dispute continues, with the next field of battle in New York, where Giuffre’s defamation case against Dershowitz — with a potential star plaintiff’s witness named David Boies — trudges on. Boies is a potential witness because he could be called to testify about his interactions with Dershowitz and about Dershowitz’s extortion theory. That means that Dershowitz, the 80-year-old, and Boies, the 78-year-old, will tangle again as the elder party in the grudge match tries to get the younger one’s law firm barred from representing Giuffre in the defamation suit against Dershowitz.
And so it has gone for years, an endless cycle of enmity playing out on a continuous loop. This clash of the titans is so persistent and many-tentacled that one could imagine it outliving the legal giants it has consumed.
A cache of documents offers disturbing testimony about what happened inside the Florida mansion owned by Jeffrey Epstein.
A rotating cast of girls would sit around Jeffrey Epstein’s waterfront mansion, drinking milk.
To Alfredo Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler in the mid-2000s, that was one reason he suspected that his boss was engaged in sexual activities with underage girls. At times, Mr. Rodriguez later told a Florida police detective in a sworn statement, he was instructed to dispense hundreds of dollars to the girls after they performed massages for Mr. Epstein; at other times, Mr. Rodriguez gave them “tips” in the form of iPods and jewelry.
Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.
But a cache of previously sealed legal documents, released on Friday by a federal appeals court, provides new, disturbing details about what was going on inside Mr. Epstein’s homes and how his associates recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.
The documents — among the most expansive sets of materials publicly disclosed in the 13 years since Mr. Epstein was first charged with sex crimes — include depositions, police incident reports, photographs, receipts, flight logs and even a memoir written by a woman who says she was a sex-trafficking victim of Mr. Epstein and his acquaintances.
The documents were filed as part of a defamation lawsuit in federal court that Virginia Giuffre brought in 2015 against Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion and confidant. Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell settled the lawsuit shortly before the trial was to begin in 2017.
The Miami Herald and other media outlets petitioned the court to have the lawsuit documents unsealed. The request was initially denied, but an appeals court ordered them released last month, just days before Mr. Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Epstein, a financier with opulent homes, a private jet and access to elite circles, had been dogged for decades by accusations that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual acts in Florida. He previously avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a widely criticized deal that allowed him to plea to solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail.
About 2,000 pages of the materials were posted online by the appeals court on Friday, providing a high-definition glimpse inside what federal prosecutors have said was Mr. Epstein’s long-running sex-trafficking operation.
The fullest account is provided by Ms. Giuffre, who claims that Mr. Epstein forced her into being a “sex slave.”
In a sworn deposition, she said she first met Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, and Mr. Epstein in the summer of 2000, when she was 16. At the time, Ms. Giuffre was working as a masseuse at the spa at Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where her father was a maintenance worker.
She said she was sitting outside the locker room, reading a book on massage therapy, when Ms. Maxwell approached her. She said she knew someone who was looking for a traveling masseuse. “If the guy likes you, then, you know, it will work out for you. You’ll travel. You’ll make good money. You’ll be educated,” Ms. Giuffre recalled Ms. Maxwell telling her.
Ms. Giuffre took the job. Ms. Maxwell trained her on how to give erotic massages, and Ms. Giuffre soon began providing them to Mr. Epstein at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. Before long, she said, she was being flown on Mr. Epstein’s private Gulfstream jet to perform sexual services on Mr. Epstein’s acquaintances, including politicians and high-powered businessmen.
The word “massage” became code for “sex,” she said in the 2016 deposition. “My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy,” she said. “Their whole entire lives revolved around sex. They call massages sex. They call modeling sex.”
Ms. Maxwell’s depositions provide, for the first time, a glimpse at her perspective. She denounced Ms. Giuffre, saying that “everything Virginia has said is an absolute lie.” Lawyers for Ms. Maxwell were out of the country and unavailable for comment on Friday, their office said.
In court papers, the lawyers painted Ms. Giuffre as a troubled woman with a history of substance abuse and a turbulent personal life. They said her allegations shifted and became more lurid as she sought to sell her story to the media and publishers.
Ms. Giuffre had said she wrote her recollections of her experiences in a journal, but burned it in a bonfire that she and her husband built in their Titusville, Fla., backyard in 2013, according to court papers.
Back at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, partially shielded from view by a large hedge, it was hard for workers to miss what was happening.
John Alessi, a maintenance worker there from 1990 until about 2001, said he saw about 100 female masseuses at various times in the house.
After massages, Mr. Alessi said in a deposition, he occasionally found sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom in the mansion. He said he put gloves on, rinsed the instruments and placed them in a closet.
Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Epstein’s butler, had a similar recollection. In July 2006, he told a Palm Beach police detective in a sworn statement that after girls gave massages to Mr. Epstein, Mr. Rodriguez would go into his bedroom to wipe down vibrators and sex toys and then stash them in a wooden armoire near Mr. Epstein’s bed.
On occasion, Mr. Alessi said, he drove Ms. Maxwell from one Palm Beach spa to another, where she left her business cards in order to recruit massage therapists for Mr. Epstein.
Ms. Maxwell recruited Johanna Sjoberg in 2001 on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic College, where she was a student. Ms. Sjoberg said in a deposition that Ms. Maxwell dangled a job as a personal assistant. She figured she could make some quick money answering phones for Mr. Epstein.
But that was not what the job entailed. Once at Mr. Epstein’s mansion, Ms. Sjoberg said, she was told to perform sexual massages on Mr. Epstein — and was punished when he did not have an orgasm.
Around the mansion, massage tables were ubiquitous, even in outdoor spaces and in guest rooms, where Mr. Epstein would send women to service houseguests. “A massage was like a treat for all the guests at Mr. Epstein’s home,” Mr. Alessi said in an affidavit.
Mr. Rodriguez, the butler, told a Palm Beach police detective, Joseph Recarey, that he suspected the girls were underage in part because their eating habits reminded him of his daughter, who was in high school.
“Rodriguez stated they would eat tons of cereal and drink milk all the time,” according to a report Detective Recarey filed. Mr. Rodriguez died in 2015.
Also among the unsealed materials was an Amazon shipping document that shows a book on “erotic servitude” and a “Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners,” both of which were delivered to Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach home.
Lawyers for Mr. Epstein did not respond to requests for comment.
The documents traced the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach Police Department, led by Detective Recarey. With the help of the local sanitation department, investigators sifted through Mr. Epstein’s trash, which yielded written phone messages, sometimes leading the police to potential victims.
Detective Recarey, who retired in 2013 after more than two decades on the force, said in a 2016 deposition that he interviewed about 30 girls who were sought to give massages. Some of the girls were terrified and tearful as he interviewed them.
A number of the girls, including one who was 15 at the time, said they were brought to Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach house and told they could make money by modeling lingerie for him, according to reports that Detective Recarey filed and that were unsealed.
Once at the mansion, a chef would prepare the girls a meal. Then they would be escorted upstairs to the master bedroom. Mr. Epstein, clad in a towel, often would request a massage of his feet and calves. He would touch the girls while masturbating under his towel. They were generally paid $200 per visit.
Mr. Rodriguez told Detective Recarey, who died last year, that he was a “human A.T.M.,” required to always have at least $2,000 on hand to pay the women and girls. Once, Mr. Epstein instructed him to deliver a dozen roses to one of the girls at her high school after a drama performance.
Lawyers representing Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers said Saturday that his death won’t stop their clients from seeking justice from those they say enabled or conspired with Epstein to allegedly sexually abuse dozens of underage girls.
The attorneys condemned as cowardly Epstein’s apparent suicide overnight while in a federal facility on charges of sex trafficking because now he won’t ever have to face the women he allegedly hurt.
“I guess there is somewhat an element of relief because the fear of him getting out is obviously over, but there is also, they’ll never be able to look into his eye and say, ‘You hurt me.’ There’s that element of closure that he’s taken away from them,” said Kimberly Lerner, an attorney for one of Epstein’s accusers.
But, Lerner said, Epstein’s death isn’t “the end, it’s just a new beginning.”
“There’s a whole network that enabled him and allowed this to happen and it’s time that everyone who was a part of this be held accountable,” she said.
Lerner’s client, Jennifer Araoz, released her own statement about Epstein’s death. Araoz has accused Epstein of raping her in his New York City home when she was 15. She said she was recruited outside her high school to make regular visits to his house
“We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” Araoz said. “Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served. I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims.”
Epstein’s death came less than a day after new details about his alleged sexual abuse of underage girls were unsealed in court filings. In the documents — part of a lawsuit settled in 2017 against a woman who allegedly recruited underage girls for Epstein — accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre named
- Prince Andrew, former New Mexico governor
- Bill Richardson (D) and former Senate majority leader
- George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) among the prominent men in Epstein’s orbit she was ordered to have sex with.
All three men have denied any wrongdoing. Epstein, a multimillionaire, kept powerful company and socialized with both President Trump and former president Bill Clinton.
Epstein was arrested last month on federal sex trafficking charges that could have put in him prison for 45 years. New York University Law School professor Stephen Gillers said Epstein’s death puts an end to that prosecution, but it doesn’t mean the investigation is over.
“Is there the equivalent of a little black book whose contents implicates others? Was incriminating video, email or voice mail found in his mansion’s safe?” Gillers said. “While the case against Epstein is over, the investigation is not.”