Sun. Jul 21st, 2019

Money and power clash with justice in the 'Epstein case' | Society



Jeffrey Epstein, arrested on July 6, is a serial pedophile who managed to stay out of the black list of Me Too. How a sexual predator who abused dozens of girls for years went unpunished despite the mountain of evidence that was against him? The answer: with a lot of money, a lot of power and a lot of help.

The mansion that the businessman has at 9 East 71st Street in New York - one of the largest in Manhattan - is the epicenter of the plot. There, according to the arrest warrant, is where Epstein pressured several girls to do sexual favors in exchange for money. One of them is Jennifer Araoz. In the lawsuit filed this week, the victim says that the massage room was the "favorite" of the accused.

The local press describes the mansion - which the billionaire bought businessman Leslie Wexner, patron of the conglomerate that controls, among others, the lingerie firm Victoria's Secret - as a fortress. When the FBI broke into the house looking for evidence against the now arrested, they found in a safe a CD with hundreds of photos of their victims, some completely naked.

On the walls of the house there are photos of influential figures such as Bill Clinton, Woody Allen or the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salmán. Epstein held a dinner for the former Democratic president who were, in addition to Wexner and Donald Trump, millionaires like Mort Zuckerman and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Epstein, 66, used to brag about the "collection" of famous friends he had. The Prosecutor's Office of New York estimates its fortune at 500 million dollars and earns 10 million dollars per year. The origin of their wealth is a mystery. The billionaire was a working-class boy - his father was a park official - born in Coney Island who began his career

at the defunct Bear Stearns investment bank. After six years there, he became independent and created his fund to manage the assets of families with more than 1,000 million in assets.

Wexner was one of its first customers. It was estimated then that it managed 15,000 million in assets. With that business card, he invited his friends to his Caribbean island and ranch in New Mexico and generously offered his plane, known as the Lolita Express, to his contacts. "There must be a lot of important people sweating," says Julie Brown, author of the research on Miami Herald that resurrected the Epstein case, forgotten for 11 years.

Prostitution

Epstein was investigated in 2005 for abusing a 14-year-old girl at his Palm Beach residence. In the spring of 2006, he was arrested on four counts of unlawful sexual activities with minors. In presenting the charges, the New York Prosecutor's Office accused Epstein of exploiting "particularly vulnerable" children. Many of the girls had financial difficulties and the fact that they accepted money for sex made them prostitutes. Fact that the defendant's powerful team of lawyers used to question the credibility of the victims.

The case was closed in 2008, when the then federal prosecutor of Miami, Alexander Acosta, negotiated with Epstein to plead guilty to having prostituted a minor, which allowed him to avoid federal charges that could mean a life sentence. The billionaire was included in the register of sex offenders and spent 13 months in prison, where he could leave 12 hours a day, six days a week.

The recent investigation of the Miami Herald brought to light the sordid details of the pact and sparked the controversy over the leniency of the sentence. In addition, the then prosecutor Acosta - who until last Friday was Secretary of Employment of the Trump Administration - hid the victims that the agreement would prevent federal charges. The controversy forced the resignation of Acosta on Friday, but is not the only member of the United States Government linked to Epstein. Attorney General William Barr was a counselor for Kirkand & Ellis, the law firm that negotiated the agreement.

After the trial, the billionaire had to appear, as a sex offender, before the police every 90 days. He never did. The prosecutor who is now leading the case against Harvey Weinstein even asked to have his status on the sexual predator list lowered. Thus he managed to remain untouchable. This time, however, everything indicates that he will have to face real justice. The Prosecutor's Office asks that his release be rejected until the trial, after revealing that he paid 350,000 dollars to his accomplices when the Miami Herald published the reports questioning the secret pact to buy their silence in case they had to testify.

The interior decoration of his mansion, among many other eccentricities, includes precisely a mural of a prison, in which Epstein himself appears portrayed in the center with some guards. That is where they want to see victims like Araoz, who hope that those who allowed the plot to operate with impunity until now also fall.

The powerful ones that surrounded the financier

One of the victims of Jeffrey Epstein is Virginia Giuffre. She worked at President Donald Trump's golf club in Mar-a-Lago when she was recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell, the person closest to the defendant, to massage her. Trump's name appears in his little black book (his black notebook) associated with a dozen numbers, according to the images that the Gawker portal unveiled in 2015. It includes Alec Baldwin and Ralph Lauren, among others.

Giuffre spent most of his time living in Jeffrey Epstein's mansion, where his sole purpose was to be used for sexual purposes by the billionaire, Maxwell and his friends. In his complaint he quoted Alan Derhowitz and Prince Andrew of England. She says she was assaulted when she was 17 years old and in the lawsuit she also claims that the authorities had videos and photos of her having a hedge with "powerful friends" of the defendant.

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