Jeffrey Epstein and the Farmer sisters: Missed opportunities to stop a predator

The NY Times published a piece today about Maria and Annie Farmer, two sisters who were the first to report their stories about Jeffrey Epstein to the police, long before he was caught bringing teen girls into his Florida mansion. Maria Farmer had moved to New York in 1993 and was studying painting at the New York Academy of Art. That’s how she met Jeffrey Epstein who said he was interested in hiring her to procure art for his various mansions.

While spending time with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, Maria recalls excitement about a planned visit from Bill Clinton (though she never saw him) and says she actually met Donald Trump. Speaking of Farmer, Maxwell allegedly told Trump, “she’s not for you.” Farmer also claims that it was routine for Maxwell to go out cruising looking for “nubiles” for Epstein:

Ms. Maxwell was charming and friendly, Ms. Farmer said, and as Mr. Epstein’s companion, she offered young women a level of assurance that they were safe in his presence. But she also seemed to play an important role in bringing young women in, Ms. Farmer said, recalling that Ms. Maxwell would leave the house saying, “I’ve got to go get girls for Jeffrey.”

Ms. Maxwell would refer to the girls she was looking for as “nubiles,” Ms. Farmer said. “They had a driver, and he would be driving along, and Ghislaine would say, ‘Get that girl,’” she said. “And they’d stop, and she’d run out and get the girl and talk to her.”

At some point, Maria Farmer mentioned to Epstein that her little sister Annie, then just 16-years-old, was hoping to go to college. Epstein immediately agreed to fly Annie to New York from her home in Arizona. During that trip, the two sisters, Epstein, and Maxwell went out to a movie. During the movie, Epstein began rubbing Annie’s hand and leg. Annie wrote in her diary in January 1996, “It was one of those things that just gave me a weird feeling but wasn’t that weird + probably normal.”

After the NY trip, Epstein invited to send Annie to Thailand, supposedly with a group of people. When Annie arrived at Epstein’s New Mexico home for a weekend, she discovered she was the only person going on the trip. While in New Mexico, Maxwell told her to give Epstein a foot massage and one morning Epstein showed up in her room saying he wanted to cuddle. Maxwell also insisted on giving Annie a massage for which she would have to be naked from the waist up.

Maria, not knowing what had happened to her younger sister, was staying in a house in Ohio owned by Epstein where she was focused on painting. During the summer, Epstein and Maxwell came to visit and that’s when they allegedly crossed a line into sexual assault:

One night, she recalled getting an unusual request: Mr. Epstein needed his feet massaged.

The foot massage was brief and awkward, Ms. Farmer recalled, as Mr. Epstein groaned with what seemed like exaggerated pleasure, followed by a yelp of pain. Then he invited her to sit on the bed, where he was watching a PBS program about math.

Ms. Maxwell joined them on the bed, Ms. Farmer said, and the night took a sudden turn: Both Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell began groping Ms. Farmer over her clothes, rubbing her body, commenting on her features, and twisting her nipples to the point of bruising. She said they did so in unison, mirroring each other’s movements. Fearing that she was about to be raped, Ms. Farmer eventually fled the room and barricaded herself in another part of the house.

She soon discovered that three nude photographs she had kept in a storage box were missing. The photos were of Annie and a third Farmer sister, who was 12, modeling for Maria’s figurative paintings.

Maria father came to pick her up and, after that incident, she spoke to her sister Annie who described what had happened to her. Maria decided to go to the police in New York where she lived. They took her report but since the assault had taken place in Ohio, there wasn’t anything they could do. They suggested she contact the FBI. Maria did contact the FBI but nothing ever came of it. The FBI wouldn’t confirm if it had a record of her call making the report which lasted for half-an-hour.

In 2003, a reporter for Vanity Fair contacted Maria about the allegations. As I noted last week, Jeffrey Epstein put pressure on Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter not to run the explosive allegations by the Farmer sisters. A bullet and later a severed cat head were found outside Carter’s home. Vanity Fair eventually ran the story on Epstein but without the allegations by the sisters. Graydon Carter claims it was because the story wasn’t backed by enough sources, but both sisters and their mother say they were willing to comment on the record at the time. Maria Farmer claims that after Epstein learned they had spoken to a reporter, she got a threatening call from Maxwell:

“Better be careful and watch your back,” she said Ms. Maxwell told her. “She said, ‘I know you go to the West Side Highway all the time. While you’re out there, just be really careful because there are a lot of ways to die there.’”

Maria Farmer was reportedly traumatized by her time with Epstein and Maxwell. She gave up painting and left New York. She says the comments the pair had made about her breasts led her to eventually get breast reduction surgery. She was disappointed again when the investigation of Epstein in Florida resulted in a plea deal and barely any jail time. “Every time I hear one of the girls tell their story, it devastates me,” she told the Times.

This sounds a bit like survivors guilt. It’s not Maria Farmer’s fault that Epstein was a creepy pedophile. It’s also not her fault that so many people in a position to do more to stop Epstein seemed to give in to the pressure he applied and, time after time, did very little to stop him. There are plenty of people who should probably feel some shame about that but Maria Farmer isn’t one of them.

Jazz Shaw May 05, 2021 4:01 PM ET