Politics

Jeffrey Epstein estate sued by US Virgin Islands over sex abuse of young girls on island hideaway up until 2018

Key Points
  • The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands is suing the estate the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
  • It is alleging the wealthy investor sexually abused women and young girls on his island getaways on that territory.
  • Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan in August while facing child sex trafficking charges related to his abuse of underage females from 2002 through 2007 at his homes on the Upper East Side and Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Epstein was a registered sex offender, having pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida in 2008, which included paying for sexual services from an underage girl.
Jeffrey Epstein in Cambridge, MA in 1984.
Rick Friedman | Corbis News | Getty Images

The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday sued the estate of late accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, alleging the wealthy investor raped and otherwise sexually abused young women and girls — as young as 12 years old — at his secluded private island getaways in that territory.

Epstein's criminal enterprise — from 2001 through 2018 — "facilitated ... the sexual molestation and exploitation of numerous girls" on his two private islands, claims the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Denise George in Superior Court of the Virgin Islands.

The lawsuit seeks forfeit of those two islands, which are worth an estimated $86 million, as well as unspecified monetary damages and the breakup of corporate entities that Epstein allegedly used to provide him with girls who sexually serviced him three times each day.

The girls, ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old, were "deceptively lured" and recruited "with money and promises of employment, career opportunities and school assistance" to the Virgin Islands, where Epstein and other abusers "participated in sexual acts of rape and abuse of minors," the suit claims.

While on the island, the girls sometimes had their passports taken away, barred from communicating with people not on the islands and were threatened with violence, according to the suit.

Abuse victims then were forced "to recruit others to perform services and engage in sexual acts — a trafficking pyramid scheme," according to the suit, which was filed five months after Epstein fatally hung himself while in a Manhattan jail awaiting trial on federal child sex trafficking charges.

Some of the victims were paid through Epstein's charitable foundations, the suit says.

"The conduct of Epstein and his associates shocks the conscience and betrays the deepest principles and laws of the Virgin Islands," said George.

"The Virgin Islands is not, and will not be, a safe haven for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We will hold accountable those who break our laws regardless of political, social or economic status."

In addition to Epsteins' estate, defendants in the case include several Epstein-controlled companies, and unidentified "John and Jane Does" who allegedly facilitated and participated in sexual abuse of underage girls.

Two of those entities, Nautilus Inc., and Poplar Inc., have as officers two men, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, who are executors of Epstein's estate, the suit says.

The suit's claims include aggravated rape, human trafficking involving sexual servitude, forced labor, patronizing minors, as well as child abuse and neglect, unlawful sexual contact, prostitution and conspiracy.

The attorney general's suit claims that Epstein's estate, which is valued at more than $575 million, is continuing to engage in conduct geared to concealing his criminal conduct by proposing the creation of a voluntary claims resolution program that would settle claims of sexual abuse by Epstein.

The suit said that the program would impose "confidentiality requirements and requires any claimant accepting an award under the program to sacrifice any other claims against 'any other person or entity arising from or related to Mr. Epstein's conduct.' "

But Daniel Weiner, a lawyer for the estate's executors, said the attorney general's lawsuit incorrectly describes the victims' compensation program, which has yet to be approved by a Virgin Islands court.

Weiner said that people who participate in the program would have "absolutely no obligation to keep confidential any aspects of their claim."

"The suggestion that the Program was intended to conceal any information or to shield anyone from liability or accountability is unfounded, directly contrary to the details of the proposed Program, and false," Weiner said in an emailed statement. "We urge the Attorney General to contact the Program Administrator directly to confirm that the Co-Executors' description of the Program is accurate, and to then correct the pleading filed today by her office."

Weiner said the executors of Epstein's estate would have no other comment on the lawsuit.

Epstein owned two private islands, Little St. James and Great St. James, located almost two miles away from the larger island of St. Thomas, which is home to thousands of people, businesses and government offices.

The suit says Epstein bought Little St. James in 1998 "as the perfect hideaway for trafficking young women and underage girls for sexual servitude, child abuse and sexual assault."

Epstein used a "straw purchaser" to buy Great St. James Island in 2016 for more than $20 million to avoid having someone else live there and be able to view his misdeeds or visitors, according to the suit.

In one instance cited in the suit, "a 15-year-old victim was forced into sexual acts with Epstein and others and then attempted to escape by swimming off Little St. James Island."

"Epstein and others organized a search party that located her and kept her captive by, among other things, confiscating her passport," the suit said.

Another girl, after being forced to perform sex acts also tried to escape, and after Epstein found her "suggested physical restraint or harm if she failed to cooperate," the suit says.

In 2018, according to the court filing, Epstein refused to allowed Virgin Island Department of Justice investigators, accompanied by U.S. Marshals, to enter Little St. James beyond its dock, "claiming the dock was his 'front door' as they tried to conduct an address verification in connection with his registration as a convicted sex offender.

The suit says that planning and environmental officials repeatedly issued citations and assessed fines of thousands of dollars for Epstein violating construction and environmental codes in work on his islands.

VIDEO0:5800:58
NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

Epstein, 66, was arrested in July at a northern New Jersey airport on an indictment accusing him of trafficking dozens of underage girls 2002 through 2007 to be sexually abused at his homes on the Upper East Side and Palm Beach, Florida. He had pleaded not guilty in that case.

Epstein, who was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as of Britain's Prince Andrew, also was a registered sex offender.

He pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state charges, which included paying for sexual services from an underage girl. He had served 13 months in jail in that case, but was allowed out on work release for hours each day.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says that Epstein's controlled entities owned aircraft that "Epstein used to transport young women and children to and from the Virgin Islands" in the years before and after his arrests.

"Epstein and his associated trafficked underage girls to the Virgin Islands, held them captive, and sexually abused them, causing them grave physical, mental and emotional injury," the suit says.

"As recently as 2018, air traffic controllers and other airport personnel reported seeing Epstein leave his plane with young girls some of whom appeared to be between the age of 11 and 18 years."