A tentative schedule has been set to roll out potentially thousands of pages of documents that could reveal more names of people allegedly involved in the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.
At a status conference in New York Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska set a timeline for review of an initial batch of more than 160 documents, which will be organized into categories and examined in the coming weeks.
The case involves a federal lawsuit filed in 2015 by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Robert Giuffre, now 35. Giuffre’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, along with the Miami Herald and others, is seeking to unseal documents in the file that could reveal more about the role of Epstein’s former partner, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, in helping him run his operation.
Maxwell’s lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca, said the court documents in the case involve “hundreds of pages of investigative reports that mention hundreds of people.” He argues that many of those identified in the documents should not be publicly named.
Some of those named could be victims, others could be witnesses or people employed by Epstein who provided statements implicating themselves or others as part of the civil case, which was settled in 2017.
The initial judge in the civil case agreed to have nearly everything sealed, but an appeals court earlier this year ruled that the documents should be made public. At issue is how those documents will be released and when.
Preska, expressing frustration that the case is dragging on, set up a schedule for the parties to review the documents and then submit legal briefs. People who are named in the documents could be notified ahead of time and given an opportunity to object to their identities being released, said Christine Walz, the attorney representing the Miami Herald.
On Tuesday, a man identified only as John Doe wrote a letter to the court asking the judge not to reveal his name or the names of others because, he said, it would harm their reputations. It’s not clear whether those parties will be granted requests for redacting their names.
In early July, more than a decade after he was first investigated for alleged sex trafficking, Epstein, 66, was arrested by federal agents. He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10, while awaiting trial. It was one day after nearly 2,000 documents in the Giuffre case were unsealed as a result of the New York City litigation.
Those documents, part of the case’s motion for summary judgment, listed the names of many powerful men Giuffre said she was trafficked to for sex by Epstein and Maxwell.
Among the people named: famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who represented Epstein; Prince Andrew; former Maine Sen. George Mitchell; former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin; hotel magnate Tom Pritzker; and MIT scientist Marvin Minsky. All of the men have denied that they were involved with Giuffre, except for Minsky, who is dead.
Maxwell, 57, has denied any involvement in Epstein’s crimes, but she nevertheless is being eyed by federal prosecutors in New York as a potential co-conspirator of Epstein’s. She has never been charged.
Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide by the New York medical examiner. U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered a Justice Department probe into how Epstein, who had been on suicide watch days before his death, could have hanged himself. The federal Bureau of Prisons, which operated the facility, has come under intense pressure for failing to adequately monitor Epstein, and the acting director in charge was reassigned.
With Epstein’s death, federal investigators are now focusing on others who allegedly aided his trafficking operation. The self-proclaimed billionaire molested dozens and perhaps hundreds of underage girls and young women over two decades by employing recruiters and schedulers to lure mostly poor and sometimes homeless girls to give him massages in exchange for money. Those massages often turned into sexual assaults by Epstein. In Florida alone, nearly three dozen girls, mostly 13 to 16, were identified by the FBI as victims.
In November, the Miami Herald published an exposé on the case, Perversion of Justice, that detailed how state and federal authorities in Florida allowed Epstein to escape federal charges more than a decade ago. Back then, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of prostitution, serving a short stint in the Palm Beach County stockade.
In the wake of the investigative series, federal prosecutors in New York reopened the case and more women have come forward to allege that Epstein, Maxwell and others sexually exploited and abused them at his various homes around the country.