The following was originally written for and published by Revolution Now Magazine.
This article is part one of a double feature.
Disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10th after accusations of sex trafficking minors. What followed was a myriad of speculation and conspiracy theories involving many prominent public figures, from the Clinton family to the United Kingdom’s Prince Andrew. What do we know surrounding Epstein’s sudden death, and how does it all connect?
Epstein had previous convictions. In June of 2008, he appeared before a judge in a Palm Beach County, Florida courtroom to plead guilty to felony charges for procuring a minor for prostitution. Epstein arranged a plea deal with former U.S. attorney Alex Acosta which allowed for all grand jury subpoenas to be voided, and the severity of Epstein’s charges to be lowered. He was released from jail in July 2009 after serving only 13 months of his 18-month sentence (most of which was spent on ‘work release’ in a private wing of the prison). After it was discovered that he had never originally registered as a sex offender, he was forced to do so in 2011.
His accusers challenged the prior statutory rape sentence in court, which developed into charges of child sex trafficking. As more girls came forward, his accusers challenged him in court in an attempt to get him to serve a more stern sentence. This time, he was accused of not only statutory rape, but also for running a sex trafficking ring. According to Federal prosecutors, Epstein paid girls as young as 14 hundreds of dollars in cash for sex at either his Manhattan townhouse or his estate in Palm Beach. He was arrested on charges of child sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He pled not guilty, and faced up to 45 years in prison.
He allegedly enlisted help from a group of female associates. In the wake of his suicide, federal authorities found a new focus in their investigation: the dozens of women, including Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's ex-girlfriend, who solicited young girls to come to Epstein’s home and give him ‘massages.’ Police said these massages would become sexual, and some of the girls told police Epstein would use sex toys on them while he got a "massage."
Some of Epstein’s crimes allegedly took place on his private Caribbean island. Little Saint James, in the US Virgin Islands, was purchased by Epstein in 1998. Known to locals as “Pedophile Island,” his victims’ lawyers allege that this is where some of the worst abuses took place. Court documents claim that then-17 year old Virginia Roberts was made to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions: in London, in New York, and as part of an orgy on Little Saint James. Bill Clinton is widely said to have traveled to Little Saint James, but flight logs, security records and Clinton representatives have since dispelled this rumor.
Epstein’s death was mired in suspicion. Thirty-eight minutes before news of Epstein’s death broke in the mainstream media, an anonymous 4chan author published a message that read, “Don’t ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this.” The jail where Epstein was being held was also found to have made several errors in security, such as removing Epstein from suicide watch. In addition to this, the New York Times reported that two of the guards charged with surveilling Epstein slept through two of his scheduled checks, and falsified records that the checks took place. These suspicious details sparked speculation about whether his death could’ve been more complicated than suicide.
His death was ruled a suicide by examiners. The chief medical examiner in New York, Dr. Barbara Sampson, released a statement Friday that ruled out foul play, and placed Epstein’s cause of death as suicide by hanging. Alongside an autopsy, Dr. Sampson stated that there had been “careful review of all investigative materials.” Epstein’s legal team responded shortly after, saying, “The defense team fully intends to conduct its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of Mr. Epstein’s death.” His lawyers also stated they were prepared to sue the government for access to surveillance video from the time of their client’s death.
He signed a will shortly before his suicide. On August 8th, just two days before Epstein was to be found dead in his jail cell, he signed a last will and testament. The executors of this will, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, are tasked with transferring all of Epstein’s property into a trust fund entitled the ‘1953 Trust.’ Though it is unclear who will receive the proceeds of Epstein’s estate, court documents show his brother, Mark, as the sole heir to the $577 million fortune.
What happens next? The criminal case involving Epstein himself is over, but now the focus shifts to the lawsuits filed against his estate. Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her when she was 15 years old, filed suit on August 14th. “I am here because today is my first step towards reclaiming my power. Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence and my self-worth,” said Araoz in an opinion piece published by the New York Times. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have stated that they will continue to investigate any and all conspirators who aided Epstein in his crimes, though the likelihood of charges being brought against them is uncertain.