Opinion

High-Powered Sex Abusers: Too Big To Fail

Abuse of power, influence peddling, non-disclosure agreements, sexual favors, pay offs, terrified victims, and the inability to control sexual urges that stem from the dark side of man, all seem to be a running theme in the distinct cases of Hollywood’s, Harvey Weinstein and Wall Street’s infamous hedge fund manager, Jeffrey Epstein.

Both men–exceptionally intelligent, rich, respected marketing geniuses and armed with powerful friends and political allies such as the Clinton’s, seem to be above the law irrespective of their legal wrongdoings.  Yes, the violations committed by Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Epstein are different.  Mr. Weinstein has never been accused of sexually violating a minor unlike Mr. Epstein.  Epstein pled guilty to two counts of Solicitation of Prostitution with a Minor, in 2007, after a two-year federal investigation was shut down.  Mr. Epstein also has 2 pending cases in New York and Florida, twelve years after the criminal case closed.

Anyone who enjoys history knows that it tends to repeat itself.  In fact, it is exhaustively documented that some absolute monarchs and modern day dictators, given all power to rule, have all but declared themselves gods.  Three in particular come to mind— Emperor Caligula, nee Gaius Augustus Germanicus who ruled over the 3rd Roman Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte, the 19th Century’s Emperor of the French, and Adolf Hitler, Germany’s 20th Century, demonic ruler.

In 1887, British historian and moralist First Baron John Emerich Edward Acton, coined the phrase when expressing his opinion to Bishop Mandell Creighton about “Great men are always bad men.” He went on to explain, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Perhaps Lord Acton was on to something.  The question to ask in 21st Century America is:  How can corporations, Civil Society, and the Department of Justice help curtail productive, powerful, successful executives and marketing geniuses such as Messrs. Weinstein and Epstein from harming young people in vulnerable positions?   Since two categories of laws exist, federal and state, should more legislation be enacted–by federal and state legislators–to protect the most vulnerable populations, men and women, in the United States?

Mr. Weinstein’s act of contrition seemed believable and resolute when he gave his public statement last week concerning his misconduct.  In a statement to The New York Times he said, “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.  I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office—or out of it. To anyone.   I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.  I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.”

In contrast to Mr. Weinstein’s public repentance and honesty, Jeffrey Epstein has never apologized for his actions.  On the contrary, when asked by a New York Post reporter in 2011 about serving time for solicitation with a minor, Epstein was not the least bit remorseful.

Mr. Epstein told the reporter, “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an offender.  It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”  This statement was in spite of him being advised to sign a Non- Prosecution Agreement. He pled guilty to 2 counts of prostitution with a minor ad served 13 months in a state jail followed by 18 months under house arrest, In Palm Beach.  When he was released he traveled to New York where he maintains a vast residence in Manhattan. He was forced to register as a sexual offender and designated a level 3. Level 3 is the highest risk category that poses a threat to public safety. Two dozen victims trafficked for sex testified against Mr. Epstein and his principal procurers.  Yet he still believes he is not a predator.  Perhaps Mr. Epstein does not understand that sexually abusing a child usually destroys the child’s psyche forever? Perhaps it does not concern Mr. Epstein to be identified as a registered sex offender, level 3?  After all, money begets power which most always precipitates forgiveness.

Last week in a surprising act of departure, The New York Times called on Mr. Weinstein to, “release women from any non-disclosure agreements.”

Should the news organization follow the same course of action and request Mr. Epstein release his victims from any non-disclosure agreements? In Epstein’s case, thousands of court files detailing the egregiousness of the sexual abuse cases have been heavily redacted and mostly sealed to the media and public.  Court files containing important evidence and hundreds of depositions given by victims and law enforcement remain under seal.  After all, Mr. Epstein’s cases represent far more egregious crimes against dozens of women than Mr. Weinstein’s case has thus far. Crimes committed by Mr. Epstein against dozens of underage victims, some as young as 12, that scarred them permanently.

According to the New York Times report, several striking similarities between the two cases show that in proper mogul fashion, Messrs. Weinstein and Epstein paid off dozens of allegations of sexual harassment for years before their cases were brought to light.  Both hired the best and brightest attorneys to represent them.

It’s interesting to note the difference in style of the principal attorneys representing each mogul.  One of Mr. Epstein’s lead attorneys was former Harvard University law professor, Alan Dershowitz.  Mr. Dershowitz was a close friend and lead attorney. In 2014, Mr. Dershowitz was accused by one of the victim’s, Virginia Louise Roberts, of sexual molestation when she was a minor.

In Mr. Weinstein’s case, the recent resignation of his Los Angeles attorney, Ms. Lisa Bloom, an outspoken and respected feminist and Ms. Gloria Allred’s daughter, left a lot to the imagination. No doubt the truth–in its entirety–will surface eventually.

Two more attorneys represent Mr. Weinstein. Charles Harder and New York’s, David Boies, continue to work on the case.  Mr. Boies, coincidentally, recently represented Virginia Louise Roberts-Giuffre.  The same victim who accused Mr. Dershowitz of sexually molesting her as a minor. Mr. Boies took on the defamation case Virginia Louise Giuffre vs. Ghislaine Maxwell, pro bono, in September 2015.

Ms. Roberts-Giuffre accused Ms. Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s former companion, of multiple felonies including child sex trafficking.  Mr. Boies managed to settle the defamation case against Ms. Maxwell for an undisclosed amount at the eleventh hour just before the 2016 presidential elections.  Ms. Maxwell was identified as the principal procurer in dozens of court files.

Unlike the two victims, Virginia Louise Roberts-Giuffre and Lauren O’Connor, who inculpated Mr. Weinstein of sexual harassment, there are countless unknown victims of sexual abuse and harassment who refuse to come forward given the challenges women confront when testifying against rich and powerful sexual predators.  An accurate description of this dilemma was described in Ms. O’Connor’s memo, “I am a 28-year-old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.”

It is not surprising that so many victims prefer silence over the indignity, public shame of disclosure, unbalanced wheels of power and justice, and unremitting obstacles brought forth during a sexual crime investigation.  All of these daunting elements deter many victims, men and women, from ‘blowing the whistle.’  When it comes to the rich and famous, the powerful adage still holds: “The rich can get away with murder.”   While Mr. Weinstein was disgraced when he was let go by the Weinstein’s Company Board, on account of the sexual harassment charges, Mr. Epstein did not suffer any professional damage or humiliation.  Mr. Epstein continues to trade and invest his client’s money on Wall Street and other markets, his assets–domestic and off-shore–remain unfrozen, and he walks the streets freely, without any consequences and short of the $5 million dollars he had to pay three victims for restitution last month.


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