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Court documents reveal names of powerful men allegedly linked to Jeffrey Epstein

This March 28, 2017 image provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein.  (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)
AP
This March 28, 2017 image provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)

Court documents made public on Wednesday disclosed the names of dozens of powerful men with alleged connections to convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019.

Federal Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan unsealed the documents, revealing the names of numerous individuals described in a 2015 civil lawsuit as associates, affiliates or victims of Epstein.

The documents include references to former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, the magician David Copperfield, Prince Andrew, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, actor Kevin Spacey, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, the late New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Vice President Al Gore, among others.

The fact that people were named in these documents doesn't mean any of them face allegations or evidence of wrongdoing.

Many of the most prominent individuals, including U.S. politicians, British royalty, tech tycoons and bankers, were already known to have links to Epstein because of previous court cases or disclosures in the media.

Most of those publicly named have denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of Epstein's criminal activities previously.

Britain's Prince Andrew speaks during a television interview at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, England, Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Steve Parsons / AP
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Britain's Prince Andrew, pictured in 2021, is listed as a close associate of Jeffrey Epstein.

These troves of records do offer more details on a case that has drawn huge public attention and provide new, salacious allegations about these powerful men's behavior.

Federal prosecutors say Epstein — who worked for decades as a private financier for a secretive list of wealthy clients — also operated an underage sex-trafficking ring based in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.

Epstein allegedly developed a scheme to identify and exploit "dozens" of vulnerable girls and young women, some as young as 14 years old, beginning around 1994 and continuing at least until 2004.

Some of his victims later claimed in civil lawsuits that Epstein instructed them to have sex with a who's-who of powerful men.

According to one suit filed in 2014, Epstein arranged sexual encounters for "numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders."

The more than three dozen documents naming Epstein's associates were compiled as part of a 2015 civil lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who claimed she was one of Epstein's underage victims.

One of the more notable names, former President Bill Clinton, is mentioned frequently in the documents.

They say that Clinton allegedly took a trip to Thailand with Epstein and include allegations from one witness who testified Epstein told her "Clinton likes them young, referring to girls."

Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Clinton, said it had been nearly 20 years since Clinton last had contact with Epstein and that the former president has never been accused of any wrongdoing. Ureña referred NPR to a previous statementmade in 2019 on behalf of Clinton in response to allegations of ties to Epstein.

Growing suspicions as federal prosecutors delay prosecution

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned in 2019 after questions were raised about his role negotiating a federal non-prosecution deal for Jeffrey Epstein. Former President Trump has also acknowledged a long acquaintance with Epstein. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Evan Vucci / AP
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Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned in 2019 after questions were raised about his role negotiating a federal non-prosecution deal for Jeffrey Epstein. Former President Trump has also acknowledged a long acquaintance with Epstein.

Local, state and federal authorities in Florida first investigated Epstein for alleged sexual activity involving minors as early as 2005.

Some women later claimed Epstein raped them repeatedly.

"I was forced into his car, taken to his mansion and raped," said Sarah Ransome in a 2021 interview with NPR. "He knew exactly where I was. It didn't matter where I was."

But after extensive negotiations with state and federal prosecutors, Epstein avoided federal prosecution. He was allowed to plead guilty to relatively minor state charges involving prostitution and prostitution involving a minor.

He was sentenced to serve just 18 months, much of it in a Florida work-release program.

After his release in 2009, Epstein, then a registered sex offender, continued to hobnob for nearly a decade with influential, powerful and wealthy people.

A Wall Street Journal investigation published last month found that after his conviction, Epstein was often accompanied "by attractive women in their late teens or twenties" to meetings with billionaires, celebrities and politicians.

In 2018, Epstein's world unraveled when the Miami Herald newspaper published an expose of Epstein's criminal activity and the legal deal-making that helped him avoid lengthier prison time.

Epstein, then 66 years old, was arrested in July 2019 on federal sex-trafficking charges. Justice Department officials say he took his own life in prison a month later while awaiting trial.

After Epstein's death, secrecy and growing conspiracy theories

Virginia Giuffre speaks during a news conference outside a Manhattan court in New York, Aug. 27, 2019.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
Bebeto Matthews / AP
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AP
Virginia Giuffre speaks during a news conference outside a Manhattan court in New York in August 2019.

The papers were sealed after the Giuffre case was settled in 2016 for an undisclosed amount of money.

The Miami Herald then waged a five-year legal battle to have all documents linked to the case made public.

According to the newspaper, thousands more pages will be released by the court in the coming days.

Posting on the social media platform X,formerly known as Twitter, Giuffre also praised Preska's decision to release the names.

"There's going to be a lot of nervous [people] over Christmas and New Years ... who's on the naughty list?" Giuffre wrote. "This wouldn't be possible without the Honorable Judge Preska."

The details released Wednesday offer a paper trail that points to alleged friendships and associations between Epstein and these notable figures, some of which allegedly continued on even after Epstein became a registered sex offender.

After Epstein's suicide, his case spawned a cascade of conspiracy theories.

As recently as this week, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rogers suggested in a public appearance that talk show host Jimmy Kimmel might be named in the Epstein documents.

In a social media post, Kimmel fired back, saying he had no contact with Epstein and threatening to sue. "Your reckless words put my family in danger," Kimmel wrote.

Even without embellishment, it's clear Epstein's web of criminal activity operated in close proximity to some of the world's most influential individuals and institutions.

Flight manifests first published by the online journal Gawker show former President Clinton rode on Epstein's private plane more than a dozen times.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump pose for photos in New York, July 6, 2009. Both associated with Jeffrey Epstein and have denied any awareness of his criminal activity. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
Ted Shaffrey / AP
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AP
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump pose for photos in New York, July 6, 2009. Both associated with Jeffrey Epstein and have denied any awareness of his criminal activity.

In a 2002 interview, Donald Trump told New York magazine that Epstein was a "great guy" and said they had known one another for 15 years.

"It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side," Trump said.

In a 2021 interview with CNN, Microsoft founder Bill Gates voiced regret for forming a connection with Epstein in the years after Epstein's 2008 conviction. "It was a huge mistake to spend time with him," Gates said.

According to Giuffre, she was instructed by Epstein to have sexual relations with a lengthy list of associates while she was still a minor.

In legal filings and depositions, she previously named billionaire Glenn Dubin, Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Gov. Richardson and computer scientist Marvin Minsky. All have denied any wrongdoing.

While Epstein and Maxwell alone faced criminal charges, the scandal has had widespread repercussions.

  • In November 2021, Jes Staley, then head of U.K.-based Barclays Bank, resigned after it was revealed that he maintained close ties to Epstein after Epstein's 2008 conviction for sex crimes. In a May 2023 report, British officials concluded Staley acted "recklessly and with a lack of integrity" while misleading regulators about his friendship with Epstein. Staley has denied any wrongdoing.
  • In February 2022, Prince Andrew reached a settlement with Giuffre, saying in court documents that he "regrets his association with Epstein" and agreeing to make a "substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre's charity in support of victims' rights," according to a document filed by David Boies, an attorney for Giuffre.
  • In May 2023, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $75 million to settle claims by Epstein's victims that the bank was liable for "supporting, facilitating, and otherwise providing the most critical service for the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organization." The settlement included no admission of wrongdoing by Deutsche Bank.
  • In May 2023, attorneys for JPMorgan claimed in legal filings that government officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein maintained a home, "knew of and facilitated Epstein's crimes." However, the bank later agreed to pay $75 million to the Virgin Islands government to settle claims linked to Epstein's activity.
  • In June 2023, JPMorgan agreed to pay roughly $290 million into a settlement fund for victims, after serving for more than 15 years as Epstein's go-to bank. JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing. "We all now understand that Epstein's behavior was monstrous," bank officials said in a statement sent to NPR.

NPR's David Gura and Ximena Bustillo contributed to this story.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.