Jeffrey Epstein’s associates could face federal criminal prosecutions based on the available evidence, and building a case against them could take years, sex trafficking legal experts say.
Epstein kept a detailed list of his contacts in a little black book and was photographed with many powerful figures, including former President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom, former President Donald Trump and more.
Epstein’s longtime pilot, Larry Visoski, testified during the criminal trial of Epstein’s partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, that he saw Clinton, Trump and disgraced actor Kevin Spacey among Epstein’s famous clients. He did not make specific allegations in his testimony. One Maxwell accuser, who testified under pseudonym, said in her testimony that Maxwell bragged about her connections to powerful figures. (RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein And Ghislaine Maxwell Pictured Lounging At Queen Elizabeth’s Estate)
#Thread Tucker Carlson’s Monologue Demanding Answers About The Death Of Jeffrey Epstein And Calling Out AG Barr’s “Investigation”
“3 & a half years after Jeffrey Epstein died, no one has gotten to the bottom of what happened that day & there has been no accountability for it.” pic.twitter.com/ePOFWvbhAG
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 26, 2023
The legal action against Epstein’s alleged associates has been confined to civil lawsuits by victims and attorneys general, despite the evidence available for criminal prosecutions, such as Epstein’s little black book and the testimonies in the Maxwell trial.
Benjamin Bull, chief legal counsel at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), said prosecutors should be “salivating” over the chance to pursue justice for Epstein’s victims. “Any serious prosecutor worth his salt would be all over this little black book,” Bull told the Daily Caller.
“It’s a roadmap leading to the people guilty of trafficking children among Epstein’s friends and benefactors, such as Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and other prominent but culpable perpetrators,” he continued. “The scandal waiting to explode is why law enforcement has ignored this ever-growing sex trafficking ring. We need an explanation for why people are not being charged and prosecuted. Is this an instance of classic influence peddling corruption in law enforcement? Why no action? The silence is now deafening.”
Bull is a former prosecutor of obscenity and child pornography cases and has won multiple cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has also trained Justice Department prosecutors, numerous state attorneys general and prosecutorial organizations.
An investigation and prosecution involving wide-ranging criminal activity by sex traffickers can take years before charges are brought, and the international scale of Epstein’s activities could slow the process even more.
“It is not atypical for a human trafficking case to take several years to investigate and prosecute,” said Jane Anderson, a former human trafficking prosecutor in Miami-Dade County. “Investigators and prosecutors should investigate all sex crimes, following the evidence they uncover, including following up on any victim disclosure of sexual assault or exploitation.”
Prosecutors can obtain primary sources of evidence such as “interviews, digital evidence, public and government records, financial records, and more. Some evidence requires probable cause (or other legal standards) and tools like court orders, search warrants, or subpoenas to access,” Anderson told the Caller.
A criminal case can usually be established beyond a reasonable doubt if at least one witness can provide testimony, according to Anderson.
“The law in most states specifically says that a case can be established beyond a reasonable doubt based on the testimony of one witness. However, I would think most prosecutors would prefer to have corroborating evidence (testimonial, physical, circumstantial, or direct) to support a victim’s testimony,” Anderson said.
If no victims are able to testify, prosecutors can pursue a case based on other primary source evidence and witness testimony, Anderson noted. Prosecutors can also pursue related charges based on organized crime statutes and money laundering if victims are too traumatized and fearful to give credible testimony.
Typically, sex trafficking rings commit a variety of additional crimes as part of the criminal enterprise, such as “physical and sexual violence, financial crimes, drug crimes, image-abuse crimes, stalking, and witness intimidation,” Anderson told the Caller.
“Organized crime statutes and conspiracy statutes would also want to be looked at. There are other prostitution-related crimes that could be used to charge traffickers or ‘buyers’ – not victims – but, they are typically misdemeanors or low level felony crimes, depending on the state,” Anderson added. “It is a good investigatory and prosecutorial strategy to focus on the offender’s entire criminal activity to better hold them accountable, whether a victim is able or unable to testify.”
A broad range of activities not typically associated with sex trafficking are covered under sex trafficking statues, according to lawyer and sexual abuse investigator Carol Merchasin.
“By terms of the statute, sex trafficking by fraud, force or coercion does not require the movement of people across borders or state lines, nor does it require cash to change hands,” Merchasin told the Caller. “Fraudulently inducing someone to have sex in exchange for promises of career advancement could be deemed sex trafficking, and anyone who is a beneficiary of this can be held liable under the statute. So, regardless of what is going on with the federal criminal probe into Epstein’s circle, victims of sex trafficking will be able to bring civil claims against anyone who trafficked them or benefited from that trafficking.”
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sex trafficking because he made fraudulent promises in return for sex, Merchasin pointed out. “From the perspective of the law itself, this means that a surprisingly broad range of people participate in sex trafficking. In my practice, the traffickers are not criminal gangs or international financiers but gurus, spiritual leaders, or the heads of a religious cult,” Merchasin continued.
The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking released by the Trump administration and updated by the Biden administration emphasizes a prosecutorial strategy of targeting related crimes by sex trafficking rings if victims are unable to testify. It also provides strategies for greater law enforcement coordination and capacity when prosecuting sex trafficking.
“Many human trafficking violations span years, involve dozens or hundreds of victims, and cross jurisdictions. The target of an investigation may lead to an extensive network of potentially culpable co-conspirators, including facilitators who benefit financially and buyers of goods, labor, or services who turn a blind eye to victims. In those cases, asset forfeiture and restitution are valuable and effective tools,” according to the action plan.
“Many human trafficking cases rely on victim testimony, yet there are challenges in securing human trafficking victims’ participation as witnesses,” the action plan reads. Federal anti-trafficking experts and sex trafficking survivors contributed to the plan’s guidance on prosecuting sex trafficking crimes.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), victims can bring civil action against traffickers and financial beneficiaries of sex trafficking. The TVPA previously required victims to bring claims within 10 years of the offense or their 18th birthday if they were a minor at the time of the offense. In 2022, Congress passed legislation removing the statute of limitations for civil claims by individuals who were trafficked as minors.
If Epstein victims’ civil cases fall outside the statute of limitations, there are other legal avenues they can pursue. New York’s Child Victims Act, for example, extended the statute of limitations for civil and criminal cases involving sexual abuse. (RELATED: Epstein, Prince Andrew Accuser Signs Multi-Million Dollar Memoir Deal)
Prominent Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre singled out a list of eight alleged associates, known as the “Epstein Eight,” in her civil lawsuit against Maxwell. On Nov. 18, New York judge Loretta Preska promised to unseal the identities of the eight individuals, with the lone exception of “Doe 183,” Insider reported.
The “Doe 183” name will be kept sealed because the alleged relationship with Epstein “has been a subject of intense media coverage,” Preska said, according to Insider. The individual has allegedly made a years-long legal effort to keep his or her personal information out of the public and shares a lawyer with alleged Epstein benefactor Les Wexner, Insider found.
Giuffre and Prince Andrew settled a civil sexual assault lawsuit for an estimated $3 million with no trial or admission of guilt on Andrew’s part. Giuffre alleged that Andrew sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17 years old, according to The Guardian. Andrew is reportedly prepared to file a lawsuit against Guiffre demanding a retraction and apology for her claims.
Epstein accusers recently filed a civil lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank for enabling Epstein’s sex trafficking operation, Reuters reported. The lawsuit alleges that former J.P. Morgan executive Jes Staley was an operative in Epstein’s sex trafficking, according to Bloomberg. J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank are fighting to dismiss the lawsuits on the grounds that they did not benefit from or participate in Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.
Former U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George won a $105 million settlement with the Epstein estate, which must sell Epstein’s private island Little St. James as part of the settlement. Epstein committed many of his crimes on the island, which is currently on the market for $125 million.
Epstein was found dead in a jail cell in 2019 while he awaited trial on sex crimes charges brought by federal prosecutors. His death was ruled a suicide.
On June 28, 2022, a New York court sentenced Maxwell to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking crimes.