That sound you hear is dozens if not hundreds of high-powered elites frantically dialing their attorneys’ offices. In a court filing yesterday, federal prosecutors revealed that Jeffrey Epstein may not be the only one facing charges in a sex-trafficking probe. That revelation came along with a prosecution motion to impose a gag order on both sides:
Federal prosecutors in New York who have lodged child sex trafficking charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein are investigating other “uncharged individuals,” a new court filing says.
Prosecutors made that disclosure as part of a request to the judge in Epstein’s case to order all parties in the case, including Epstein and his defense team, to not publicly disclose any information turned over by prosecutors to the defense as the case heads to trial. …
Judge Richard Berman approved the prosecution’s request, which was not opposed by Epstein’s lawyers, shortly after it was filed.
Berman also imposed a series of restrictions on the defense and Epstein’s review of “images of nude or partially-nude individuals,” which is designated “highly confidential information.”
In addition to barring the defense from transmitting or copying those images, Berman said they can only “be reviewed by the Defendant solely in the presence of Defense Counsel,” and “Shall not be possessed outside the presence of Defense Counel, or maintained, by the Defendant.”
Who might the “uncharged individuals” be? At first, prosecutors and investigators will work from the inside of the Epstein circle out. That means a focus on those who enabled Epstein’s sexual predations and trafficking, especially via the so-called “Lolita Express.” And that means going after Epstein’s staff — on-site personnel, recruiters, and the pilots.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime personal pilots, according to people familiar with the matter, as investigators seek to question the financier’s employees in the wake of his indictment on sex-trafficking charges.
The grand jury subpoenas were served on the pilots earlier this month after Mr. Epstein’s arrest on July 6, some of the people said. Mr. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after he had returned from Paris on a private jet. …
Testimony from the pilots could be used by federal investigators in their efforts to corroborate accounts from Mr. Epstein’s accusers. They could also provide detail on Mr. Epstein’s travels and his associates. Some of the pilots were responsible for keeping flight logs of passengers who flew on Mr. Epstein’s private jet, according to court filings.
Flight logs? Did they say … flight logs? The pilots could be charged in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, but prosecutors would probably prefer bigger fish in the Epstein morass. The subpoenas rather than arrest warrants point in that direction too, but the underlying threat will be crystal clear. If the pilots want to cut a deal, they’ll need to corroborate who flew on the Lolita Express, when, and with whom. The victims will no doubt be able to identify some of the men who participated with Epstein in orgies with underage girls, but having the logs and the pilots to nail it down will make denials very, very difficult to manage.
In order to go after the really big fish, that’s the steps that need to be taken. That, of course, prompts the question again: why didn’t the Department of Justice do this the first time around? Alex Acosta likes to claim that the evidence wasn’t available back in 2007, but it seems much more accurate to say that prosecutors weren’t looking too hard for it, and not doing much with the evidence they did have.
Something’s changed now, and it looks like Epstein’s political cover is failing him. Even those Epstein associates who don’t get caught up in a prosecution are going to come out of this looking pretty awful. For instance, no one’s quite sure what Epstein was doing for Victoria’s Secret exec Leslie Wexner, but the link did allow Epstein to create a cover for his predatory behavior, the New York Times reports, without any apparent action from Wexner to distance himself from Epstein:
In May 1997, Alicia Arden, a model in California, was introduced to a man who identified himself as a talent scout for Victoria’s Secret. He invited her to his Santa Monica hotel room to audition for the brand’s catalog. When she arrived, Ms. Arden said, the man grabbed her, tried to undress her and said he wanted to “manhandle” her. Ms. Arden, then 27, fled in tears.
It was the type of crisis that should not have come as a complete surprise to leaders at L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret.
In the mid-1990s, two senior executives had discovered that the same man, a close adviser to the company’s chief executive, Leslie H. Wexner, was trying to pitch himself as a recruiter for Victoria’s Secret models. Mr. Wexner was alerted, according to the two executives.
It had happened at least once before, and Wexner had pledged to stop it:
In the summer of 1996, Maria Farmer was working on an art project for Mr. Epstein in Mr. Wexner’s Ohio mansion. While she was there, Mr. Epstein sexually assaulted her, according to an affidavit Ms. Farmer filed earlier this year in federal court in Manhattan. She said that she fled the room and called the police, but that Mr. Wexner’s security staff refused to let her leave for 12 hours. …
When Mr. Wexner was informed about what Mr. Epstein was doing, he promised to take care of the issue, the two executives said.
Less than a year after the alleged assault of Ms. Farmer, Ms. Arden visited Mr. Epstein in his Santa Monica hotel room, expecting to discuss appearing in the Victoria’s Secret catalog. “His weapons were his hands,” Ms. Arden said.
She said she went to the police the day after Mr. Epstein attacked her, worried that he could be using his connection to Victoria’s Secret to hurt other women. A week later, when she could not stop thinking about what had happened, she returned to the police station to put her report on the record.
Somehow, that complaint seems to have died on the vine. Don’t be surprised when more of these kinds of stories finally come to light — and Epstein’s enablers have to account for them.