Elite deviance is a condition sociologists say exists in a society when the elite of that society no longer believe that the rules apply … to them. “It is not due primarily to psychopathological variables, but to the institutionalization of elite wrongdoing,” said Professor David Simon in his landmark book now in its eighth printing, Elite Deviance.
Elite deviance is a phenomenon in which a tiny few people who have enough material wealth, political influence and personal connections can immunize themselves from considering the consequences of their most abhorrent, destructive, vile and even criminal behavior.
Elite deviance protects and perpetuates moral depravity and debased ethical relativism among the powerful and wealthy in our midst. It is an aberration of civil society that is only possible through the elites’ cadres of supporters, sycophants, apologists and fellow travelers in media, academia, politics and high finance.
In short, elite deviance means that there are a few among us to whom the rules don’t apply. They can behave with impunity in ways that would otherwise incur severe, if not life-ending, repercussions for all others in the American criminal justice system.
From 2006 to roughly 2008, hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was the subject of extensive criminal investigations by both state and federal authorities for child sex crimes. When all was said and done, the authorities had compiled copious witness evidence establishing that Epstein had been serially molesting dozens of underage girls for years, literally as a lifestyle.
For over a year the Palm Beach Police scrupulously built a multi-layered case against Epstein centered on his repeated sexual abuse of five minor children, with a lead victim just 14 years old. Many more victims either came forward or were uncovered by Palm Beach detectives. The Palm Beach investigation substantiated Epstein extensive child sex crimes, leading to what was to be Epstein’s only prosecution.
Despite a plethora of evidence establishing that Epstein, along with adults he employed to procure young girls on his behalf, had engaged in serial child molestation if not systematic child sex trafficking, an Epstein-friendly prosecutor in Florida, Barry Krischer, led a grand jury by the nose to indict Epstein on just one single charge: solicitation of prostitution, the sex crime equivalent of jaywalking.
Considerable public outrage in Palm Beach forced prosecutors to up the ante, but barely. The state cut a sweetheart plea deal resulting in Epstein’s conviction on just one count of the solicitation of a minor. As if the minimized charge in the plea deal wasn’t grotesque enough the sentence was even more outrageous.
All said and done, Jeffrey Epstein walked away with a “punishment” that even a low-level drug dealer would only dream of getting from our justice system: 13 months of a 15 month sentence, served in a county lockup during nighttime only, during which Epstein was free to travel daily to his office and even took trips to New York. To say Epstein was “incarcerated” is to abuse the word. To say Epstein was punished is to obviate the idea of child sex abuse as a serious crime.
In the immediate wake of the astonishing abdication of duty by Florida prosecutors to pursue criminal justice against a dangerous and prolific child sex predator, Epstein’s varyingly famous and infamous defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, along with a platoon of high-dollar lawyers including Kenneth Starr of Clintonian Special Prosecutor fame, cut a mystifying deal with federal prosecutors by which everyone in Epstein’s camp, including Dershowitz, was granted immunity from any further prosecution.
Not only were the terms of this astounding deal sealed from the public, by court order, but they were withheld from Epstein’s victims throughout, and only revealed after the deal was done. No one in officialdom has even attempted to explain, much less justify, why federal prosecutors chose to violate the federal Crime Victims Rights Act on behalf of Epstein and his cohorts, as a United States Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2008.
Epstein’s “prosecution” ended without any vindication for his many victims, nor for the broader, ongoing victims of Epstein’s elite deviancy: the public and its interest in substantial justice for dangerous predatory criminals.
In December 2014, the case returned to the fore after two more women came forward to join a Florida Jane Doe lawsuit, filed in 2008, seeking Epstein’s federal prosecution for child sex trafficking. In seeking to join the two original plaintiffs, Jane Doe number three, a now-married-with-children woman named Virginia Roberts, alleged that Epstein forced her to have sex with none other than Alan Dershowitz and British royal “Prince” Andrew.
Few cases crystallize elite deviance more repulsively than the ongoing evasion of criminal justice by pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, aided and abetted by his infamous defense attorney and now fellow accused sex abuser, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
By any objective standard of typical criminal liability imposed anywhere in the United States, it is beyond question that Epstein, along with his billions and his clever, well-connected lawyers, managed to either buy, bargain or bully his way out of any meaningful legal or moral accountability for countless sexual abuse offenses perpetrated against dozens of children for years.
As if this travesty of justice were itself not enough to sate their sense of impunity, Epstein’s fellow elites have routinely praised, defended and otherwise excused Epstein, and now do the same for Dershowitz amongst Epstein’s other sex cohorts, including Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.
Enter Michael Wolff, an Epstein confidant and supposed journalist (Wolff now writes a regular column for British GQ), who recently penned a withering, faux-flummoxed attack in USA Today pooh-poohing the “new age” media and the American legal system, along with Epstein’s persistent “Jane Doe” accusers and their pertinacious Florida attorneys, Paul G. Cassell (a former federal judge) and Bradley J. Edwards.
Wolff exudes the preening condescension and huffy indignation that is the hallmark of elite deviant cover-up artists, rushing to excuse one of their own. Wolff’s somewhat flustered yet strangely navel-gazing editorial conveniently skips right over the part about his child-molesting pal Jeffrey Epstein’s buying himself and his confederates a free-pass from any criminal punishment commensurate with the scope and extent of their heinous child sex crimes.
In his op-ed published on January 11, Wolff leaps right to the offensive against those forces, whether human or systemic, that he believes unduly besmirched Epstein’s elite sex cronies Alan Dershowitz and Britain’s “Prince” Andrew.
Wolff paints the whole thing almost in conspiratorial terms: “all part of a scripted game,” he writes.
Wolff conveniently neglects to disclose to USA Today’s readers his own skin in the game, his courtesan-esque coziness and nearly two-decade (and presumably continuing) personal relationship with the child molesting Epstein.
Wolff perhaps forgets the 2007 New York magazine piece by Jeffrey Weiss delving into Epstein’s well-insulated personal fiefdom, with Wolff starring in the role of gushing, star-struck Epstein sycophant. The article further describes Epstein as a “discreet confidant to Wolff … when Wolff was involved in a bid for New York Magazine.”
“It was all a little giddy”, the article quotes Wolff as saying, describing his late 90’s entre into Epstein’s surreal fantasy life, as he boarded Epstein’s “beautiful 727” for a flight full of elites to a West Coast conference.
“Jeffrey is living a life that once might have been prized and admired and valued, but its moment has passed … I think the culture has outgrown it. You can’t describe it without being held to severe account. It’s not allowed. It may be allowed if you’re secretive and furtive, but Jeffrey is anything but secretive and furtive. I think it represents an achievement to Jeffrey.”
Apparently for Michael Wolff it is only a no-no to “describe” a degenerate criminal ‘lifestyle’ such as Epstein’s, but not necessarily to actually live it, in which case it “may be allowed” as long as it remains covert.
Not to be too obvious exonerating Epstein with such faint damnation, Wolff is quoted offering Epstein counsel on how to be less ostentatious about his pedophilia: “He has never been secretive about the girls … At one point, when his troubles began, he was talking to me and said, ‘What can I say, I like young girls.’ I said, ‘Maybe you should say, ‘I like young women.’ ”
Surely, noble advice from a loyal friend.
Fast forwarding to 2015, Wolff’s USA Today editorial decrying public accusations against Epstein pals Dershowitz and Andrew is chock full of similarly subtle, almost subliminal, sophistry, totally free of any supporting factual substance to boot.
For example, the Florida Jane Doe case that was recently expanded from two to four victims in its ongoing pursuit of federal criminal justice against Epstein and his child sex trafficking cohorts is dubbed “unpromising” and “the allegations do not derive from law enforcement personnel making charges related to an investigation; rather, they come entirely from someone filing a lawsuit in an effort to win compensation and damages.”
He treats it as if it is not a bold-faced public fact that the Palm Beach Police, led by Chief Michael Reiter, publicly expressed in no uncertain terms, outrage and dismay at the miscarriage of justice in Epstein’s so-called prosecution and his subsequent federal “non-prosecution.”
For over a year, Reiter and his department had scrupulously compiled a case against Epstein based on sworn statements establishing Epstein’s repeated sexual abuse of five young girls, one just 14 at the time of Epstein’s predation, with other evidence of Epstein’s abuse of up to 35 other underage female victims.
These “law enforcement personnel” surely would disagree with Wolff’s implication that there is nothing more to the case than Epstein’s one-count solicitation of a minor conviction and the negligible so-called punishment arranged for Epstein between Dershowitz and Barry Krischer, the Florida State’s Attorney.
Wolff would do well to look into a California civil case a few years ago involving a civil defendant named O.J. Simpson who was found liable for murder where the criminal justice system found him not guilty. Should the federal government undertake the duty it has so-far shirked to pursue Epstein’s interstate child sex trafficking allegations, Wolff may yet eat his words.
Wolff seems to want his readers to buy that the case is not a continuum of facts and circumstances leading directly to Jeffrey Epstein and his enablers, whether procurers, advisers, fixers, or attack dogs. No, the overwhelming number of Epstein’s victims, not to mention of his necessary enablers, and the dogged law enforcement efforts to bring Epstein justice, short-circuited by unseemly back room lawyering, are all apparently lost on Wolff in his rush to isolate Dershowitz and Prince Andrew from Epstein’s already-downplayed criminality.
Wolff then trots out fallacious appeals to elite authority for counterfeit reinforcement, writing that, “no matter that the forensics of the story yield information false positives at almost every turn, with a low quotient of plausibility surely clear to any media professional.” [Emphasis added]. Forensics? False positives? Quotient of plausibility? Citations please, Dr. Wolff.
And not to let the civil justice system escape his contrived wrath, Wolff goes on to dismiss the efficacy, if not the basic integrity, of its venues, writing that “[w]hile civil court documents are sworn statements in the U.S., false or hyperbolic claims almost never result in perjury prosecutions and, as a result, embarrassing and damaging assertions are a common tool with which to leverage settlements.”
According to Wolff, no consequences are due to perjurers and con artists who grotesquely manipulate legal proceedings for their unjust personal benefit.
In a bizarre bit of twisted logic thrown into his indictment of the American court system’s purported laxity with false pleadings, Wolff asserts that “because most insiders — judges, other lawyers, and the press — generally discount [outlandish claims],” the “outlandishness of many claims increases.”
Does Wolff really believe that only “insiders” would be aware of this, as a general rule? That the legal system ‘generally’ ignores outrageous claims, so therefore some attorneys feel free to make their claims even more outrageous? Does this make any sense?
Notwithstanding Wolff’s meandering non-arguments, he summarily dismisses the Dershowitz/Andrew allegation as “a fantastic claim not supported by any objective authority.” [Emphasis added]. Certainly the residents of Florida, particularly Palm Beach, can be thankful that this ridiculous standard of proof was not imposed upon the complaints made by Jeffrey Epstein’s many underage victims.
Undoubtedly Epstein’s victims’ stories at the outset sounded fantastic, and certainly were not supported by “objective authority.” The problem for the likes of Epstein, and apologists like Wolff, is that they turned out to be true. And moreso, they withstood the bribe of a $50 million payoff pot ponied up by Epstein to compensate (i.e. pay off) his victims.
After exhausting the reader with a hodge-podge of argumentative fallacies and tortured logic, Wolff gets to the real source of his hysteria: elite haters
Dershowitz is the victim of his “many political enemies,” rather than a self-promoting legal sleaze defiling the criminal justice system in shady deals with friendly (or systematically intimidated) prosecutors, ensuring such travesties as his good buddy and client Jeffrey Epstein perpetually eluding justice.
The Daily Mail, a British tabloid keeping the public informed about the case, is “a ground zero of moral opprobrium and hatred of elites.”
To end at the beginning, Wolff opens his unfortunate editorial with a drippingly-arrogant and hilariously self-unaware lament over the “ill-advised notion” that “people do believe what they read.” This statement to his readers captures the essence of the corrupt mindset, the glaring hypocrisy, that subsumes Wolff and similar poseurs.
Wolff’s readers are ill-advised to believe what they read, he says … except of course for anything they read by Michael Wolff, we can presume. In pitch-perfect elite deviant fashion, Wolff is above even his own trite maxims, just as elite degenerates like Jeffrey Epstein are above all the rules and fancy-shmancy moral triflings imposed on the little people and exempt from righteous punishments righteously meted out to the worst of the worst among us, though some would have us believe they are the best and brightest.
Given the course of the Epstein case, particularly the state and federal betrayal of underage sex crime victims that got Epstein off practically scot-free, the problems exposed in the criminal justice system are far more grave, profound, and damaging to public trust than any whining journalistic lament about the wealthy and famous being done wrong in the “new” media age or even sensationalistic abuses of legal pleadings.
The phony lamentations of Michael Wolff aside, the elite deviance at the center of the Epstein saga persists, just as Epstein’s case continues to cry out for justice to be done. Epstein and his cohort continues to receive aid and comfort from other, often extraordinary if not baffling, quarters.
Epstein’s tactic of managing and manipulating prosecutors has so far not extended to judicial officers. Epstein’s legal team has managed to consistently short circuit judges from the decision-making process, not leaving anything to chance in insulating Epstein from justice.
It is notable that in the few instances courts have weighed in somehow in Epstein’s case the result has been consistent with treatment of Epstein as the dangerous pedophile he is, rather than as some breezy good-guy philanthropist gone slightly astray.