Years later, Epstein’s victims discuss the lasting impact of sexual abuse
While serving a lenient jail sentence in Palm Beach County, wealthy financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was allowed to leave jail for “work release” — at an office at his own organization, the Florida Science Foundation.
But at the foundation, according to a newly filed lawsuit, Epstein and his web of associates repeatedly arranged for sex with at least two girls, including one he met when she was 17.
“Jeffrey Epstein, through his brazen and powerful organization, was quite literally able to commit federal sex trafficking offenses at his work release office, during his jail sentence,” according to the lawsuit by a woman identified only as Kaitlyn Doe.
The allegation was included in a trio of lawsuits filed Tuesday by three women who have now come forward to allege that Epstein abused them over years, dangling promises of riches and stability.
The lawsuits are but the latest legal twist in the saga of Epstein, 66, the powerful and well-connected financier found hanged Aug. 10 in a Manhattan detention center while awaiting federal sex trafficking charges. The death has been determined to be a suicide.
The lawsuits were filed against Epstein’s estate and other entities suspected of helping Epstein travel the world, often with an entourage of young women, hopscotching to and from homes in Palm Beach, Manhattan, Paris, New Mexico and on his private island in the Caribbean.
He was first arrested in Palm Beach County over a decade ago, and got a minimal jail sentence despite investigators having identified nearly three dozen underage girls who said they were sexually abused by him at his waterfront estate.
Authorities began looking at Epstein again after the Miami Herald published a series of stories on Epstein, Perversion of Justice, that explored how the former U.S. attorney in South Florida, Alexander Acosta, allowed the wealthy financier to avoid serious prison time.
As part of that much-criticized resolution, he was allowed by the Palm Beach sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, to be out on work release six days a week at his foundation. That office is where he repeatedly had sex with a girl identified in court documents only as Kaitlyn Doe.
According to her lawsuit, Epstein in 2006 promised to help her cure an eating disorder but instead lured her into sex acts in a massage room at his Manhattan mansion. She was 17 at the time, and a virgin.
Kaitlyn was flown to Epstein’s luxury compound in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he coerced her into sex, she said. That led to months of sex acts, all while promising to pay for her “expensive, necessary surgeries,” according to the lawsuits filed by attorneys J. Stanley Pottinger and Bradley Edwards.
Later in October 2008, when Epstein was serving his jail sentence in Palm Beach County, he coerced the young woman into flying to Florida, where he promised her a job at his organization, the Florida Science Foundation.
But the young woman did not do any foundation work. Instead, Epstein again coerced the woman into sex acts — sometimes alone, sometimes with another young woman — all while he was supposed to be on work release, the suit said.
If true, it happened as he was being monitored by Palm Beach deputies in plainclothes. Epstein paid the deputies to work as his security detail, and they filed daily reports on the comings and goings at his office — records that have since been destroyed.
“At the time, [the] Florida Science Foundation and Jeffrey Epstein were supposed to be under close watch by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office,” notes the lawsuit, which also names the foundation as a defendant.
Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has faced increasingly fierce criticism for the work release arrangement, and the department is now under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Epstein continued having sex with Kaitlyn until 2014, the lawsuit alleges. He also coerced her into marrying one of his associates — so the associate could get residency papers in the United States, the lawsuit said. The associate was also a recruiter of young girls for Epstein.
In another lawsuit filed Tuesday, a woman identified as Lisa Doe said she was an aspiring 17-year-old ballet dancer when Epstein lured her into his web — under the premise that she would lead a private exercise class for him in his home.
He said he could help her and “was closely connected to many major dance companies in New York City and that he was close personal friends with some of the most influential names in dance.” That eventually led to numerous “massages” at his home, and instances of sexual abuse, the lawsuit said.
Yet another woman, identified in her lawsuit as Priscilla Doe, said she first met Epstein at age 20, when he hired her for massages — a frequent tactic described by other victims.
Over many visits, Epstein promised the young woman plenty of money to support her mother, and to boost her career as a dancer. Epstein insisted that he would not try to have sex with her, but then “forced himself on [her] and took her virginity against her will and wishes,” according to the lawsuit.
Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite suspected of acting as Epstein’s pimp, even gave the woman step-by-step instructions on how to properly pleasure Epstein, the lawsuit said.
On Epstein’s compound in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he forced her to have sex with other men, holding her as a virtual prisoner. During his own massages, he often stopped to take calls from powerful people, sometimes speaking angrily to them.
He made it known “he had the ability to cause serious harm to powerful people and anyone who did not cooperate with him,” the suit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that Epstein often bragged about his friendships with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and the Sultan of Dubai — and that she was forced to serve as a waitress at a yacht party attended by director Woody Allen.
For six years, Priscilla said, Epstein kept her as a sort of sexual prisoner, growing angry if she traveled out of his sphere in New York. “During that time, Jeffrey Epstein controlled nearly every aspect of [her] life from the clothing and jewelry she was permitted to wear to the career path she was permitted to follow to the food she was allowed to consume,” the suit said.