Alicia Arden is an actress and model who was one of the first women to formally accuse Jeffrey Epstein of sexual misconduct. Twenty-two years ago, Arden, who had appeared in Baywatch, was told by someone she knew that Jeffrey Epstein could help her land a gig as a Victoria Secret model. She sent a modeling portfolio to Epstein in New York and he called her and asked to meet her at a beachfront hotel in Santa Monica, California. What happened next won’t surprise anyone:
When she showed up, she found Epstein barefoot and clad in sweat pants and a T-shirt with USA on the front. He started criticizing her figure and asked her to come close to him so he could evaluate it, according to accounts Arden gave in interviews with the AP and in her police report.
Epstein then asked her to undress and assisted in pulling her top off and skirt up, saying, “Let me manhandle you for a second” as he began groping her buttocks.
Arden said she pushed his hands away and left.
Arden says Epstein followed her outside and offered her a $100 bill. She rejected it at first but then accepted it because she said she needed gas for her car. However, the day after leaving the hotel, Arden decided to go to the police. But her initial attempt to file a report didn’t go well:
A male detective noted that she had willingly gone to Epstein’s room — though she emphasized the purpose was business, she said. She remembered the detective suggesting she think about whether she really wanted to file a report.
She left, crying on the phone to a friend that she wished she could talk to a female police officer.
“I felt like I was being blamed,” she said.
That might have been the end of it but a week later Arden returned to the police station, met with the same detective, and filed a report about the incident. The 1997 police report spells out what Arden says happened in the hotel. And that’s where the story gets a bit squirrely. Because according to Arden she never heard back from the police.
The Associated Press asked the Santa Monica police department to provide a summary of the investigator’s notes on the case from back in 1997. According to those notes, police did interview Epstein about the incident at the hotel. However, they claim the case was closed because Arden told them she didn’t want to press charges:
The notes showed that Epstein was questioned soon after Arden’s complaint and gave a conflicting statement. Most notably, the detective wrote that Arden did not want to press charges against Epstein but wanted him warned about his behavior, an assertion that she strongly denies…
Contacted this past week, Arden was adamant that she did not, in any way, communicate to the police that she did not want to press charges. She was outraged to hear that the police say otherwise.
“The fact that they didn’t do anything, and they discredited me, is just a stab to my heart,” Arden said.
So there you have it. The police claim Arden didn’t want to press charges. Arden denies that and claims she never heard back from police. What’s clear is that Epstein’s 1997 brush with the law once again seems to have miraculously worked out in his favor.
I don’t think a predator like Epstein would have stopped abusing young girls even if he’d been charged in Santa Monica in 1997. He simply would have hired attorneys and managed to wriggle out of it or plead it down to nothing. However, I do wonder if Epstein would have had a harder time squirming out of serious prison time in the Florida case if he’d had a prior case against him in California. It’s a missed opportunity.