NEW YORK — Amid great hype, a new batch of previously secret court documents was unsealed late Wednesday related to Jeffrey Epstein, the jet-setting financier who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Social media has been rife in recent weeks with posts speculating the documents amounted to a list of rich and powerful men who were Epstein’s “clients” or “co-conspirators.” There was no such list. The first 40 documents in the court-ordered release largely consisted of already public material revealed through nearly two decades of newspaper stories, TV documentaries, interviews, legal cases and books about the Epstein scandal.
Still, the records — including transcripts of interviews with some of Epstein’s victims and old police reports — contained reminders that the millionaire surrounded himself with famous and powerful figures, including a few who have also been accused of misconduct.
There were mentions of Epstein’s past friendship with Bill Clinton — who is not accused of any wrongdoing — and of Britain’s Prince Andrew, who previously settled a lawsuit accusing him of having sex with a 17-year-old girl who traveled with Epstein.
Epstein accuser Johanna Sjoberg testified in a newly released deposition that she once met Michael Jackson at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida, home, but that nothing untoward happened with the late pop icon.
The documents being unsealed are related to a lawsuit filed in 2015 by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. She is one of dozens of women who sued Epstein for abusing them at his homes in Florida, New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New Mexico. This suit was against Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend who is now serving a 20-year prison term for helping recruit and abuse his victims.
Giuffre’s lawsuit was settled in 2017, but the court had kept some documents blacked-out or sealed because of concerns about the privacy rights of Epstein’s victims and others whose names had come up during the legal battle. More documents were to be released in coming days.
Among newly unsealed records were court memos in which Giuffre’s lawyers complained that some women who had worked for Epstein were proving difficult to serve with subpoenas, as was Epstein himself. Two of those women had invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned in other lawsuits about whether they had helped procure young women for Epstein to abuse.
Maxwell, in her deposition, chaffed at being asked about Giuffre’s allegations that she had arranged for her to have sexual encounters with Prince Andrew. She also reacted angrily to being asked about whether she had purchased sex toys or revealing outfits, or seen young, topless women at Epstein’s home.
One former member of Epstein’s domestic staff said in a deposition that he felt uncomfortable with the number of young women showing up at the house, and felt threatened by Maxwell to stay quiet.
Other documents included legal arguments over whether Giuffre should be allowed more time to depose potential witnesses, including Clinton. Giuffre never alleged he was involved in illegal behavior, but her attorneys said the former president was a “key person who can provide information about his close relationship” with Maxwell and Epstein.