- Ali Moosavi
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich | Netflix
By: Ali Moosavi
The first image in the new four-part Netflix series about the disgraced billionaire who committed suicide while in incarceration, is the video of his interrogation by the New York police. While a series of questions regarding sexual assault of minors and sex trafficking are rattled at him, he smiles nonchalantly and invokes the Fifth Amendment on the right of silence. What follows over the four episodes is a jaw droppingly, blood-boilingly unbelievable story of a serial sex predator using his wealth and power to avoid law and justice and carry on destroying lives of young girls. The extent of his power and influence over the highest echelons of power are so great that, had this been a fictional movie, it would have been criticized as too farfetched. Jeffrey Epstein makes Don Corleone look like the Saint Francis of Assisi. While the details of his sexual predatory over young girls, some as young as twelve is truly shocking, his ability to silence every newspaper reporting, police investigation – local and federal – over his activities is even more disturbing.
Epstein kept company with such champions of moral values as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Donald Trump. In an oft-quoted remark Trump said of him, “I’ve known Jeffrey for 15 years. Terrific guy. It’s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Epstein operated a “molestation pyramid scheme” where his team of female recruiters, chief among them his “main girlfriend” Ghislaine Maxwell, the English socialite and daughter of the late, disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, would lure young girls, often from poor and broken families, to one of his mansions on the pretext of earning a few hundred dollars for massaging Epstein. Then, after the massage, Epstein would assault and rape them. These girls would then be forced to recruit fresh victims for Epstein.
The testimonies of tens of Epstein’s victims in the series is truly heart breaking and often tough to watch. One victim, breaking down in front of camera describes herself as “a flower that was opening up” who after the assaults was like “somebody picked up that flower, plucked it from its roots, stomped on it and smashed it.” When some of these girls went to the police, Epstein employed private detectives to get dirt on the girls and on the police officers handling the case in order to blackmail them. The girls received death threats and Epstein told one of his victims who was pregnant that he would ask a witch doctor to put a curse on her unborn child. A police officer on the case found a severed head of a cat in his garden and a bullet on his front door.
One of Epstein’s properties was a private island in the Virgin Isles. Being an island, it was a particular favourite place for taking the girls there and assaulting them. Frequent visitors to the island included Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Epstein was also a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago where he socialized with Donald Trump and other influential people. On one of Epstein’s birthdays, a friend sent him three 12-year old girls from France as a present. There are interviews with tens of Epstein’s victims and their testimonies are as much heart breaking as the inability or reluctance of the authorities to act is infuriating. When one of the girls asked a local police officer why they were ignoring the evidence and charging Epstein, the officer replied, “well, he is a celebrity.”
One of the most tragic and also infuriating events in the Epstein timetable of events happened in 2008. The Florida Police had gathered sufficient incriminating evidence against Epstein to ensure that he would be facing a very lengthy prison sentence. They provided their evidence to the then US Attorney, Alex Acosta. However, without informing the police or the victims, Acosta’s office did a deal with Epstein whereby he would only serve a very short sentence in a correction facility. The terms of his incarceration were also incredible. Epstein was allowed to go to his offices for 12 hours a day, where he conducted more sex crimes, and after only 11 months of the 18-month sentence, he was released. Acosta went on to become the Labour Secretary in Trump’s cabinet. However, in 2019 when the details of this plea bargain were reported by newspapers, he was forced to resign. As one of the victims states, “Alex Acosta didn’t have the balls or courage to protect us.”
The means by which Epstein became incredibly wealthy are also interesting. How within a relatively short time he went from working in an investment company to own multi-million dollar mansions in New York and Paris, a huge ranch in Mexico, a private island (nicknamed “Pedophile Island” by his victims), private planes and helicopters. He lied about his education to land his first job and, even when found out, used his charm to persuade the company’s boss to keep him on. He also was a partner in a massive Ponzi scheme but somehow escaped Scott-free while the partner went to jail. He had this incredible ability to get what he wanted and dodge the law at every turn. He had the nation’s best and most expensive lawyers at his disposal whenever he got into trouble. These included Kenneth Starr, the Clinton impeachment lawyer and Alan Dershovitz whose list of celebrity clients include Claus von Bulow, OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson and Donald Trump. To his credit, Dershovitz is the only accused who has agreed to discuss the case in this series and speak openly about why he defended Epstein and tried to discredit his accusers.
The girls were trafficked around the world to please the sexual desires of Epstein’s friends. Prince Andrew looms large amongst them and the photo of him with his arms around the waist of one of the 15-year victims is one of the iconic images of the Epstein case. Snippets of his famous “I can’t sweat” interview with the BBC are shown again and thankfully he has been sent to exile by the Royal Family. Had it not been for the Me-Too movement, it is doubtful if justice would have ever been served on Epstein. Now, his main accomplice in the sexual crimes, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has gone into hiding must be hounded out and tried. Nothing will ever repair the mental damage that Epstein’s victims suffered, nor give back the normal life of a young girl that they didn’t experience. Epstein’s suspicious suicide deprived the victims of the satisfaction of him being tried in court and facing all his victims.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich is a precautionary tale for our times. It is compulsive viewing, no doubt helped by the involvement of the celebrated crime fiction writer, James Patterson, who was Epstein’s neighbor in Florida and has acted as executive producer for the series. Heart breaking but essential viewing. Young Girls Lives Matter.