They could sense something was off. Episode 6 of “Epstein: Devil in the Darkness” features interviews with several former staff members under Jeffrey Epstein's employ as he allegedly abused girls and young women. Many of them admitted that they had a feeling something was going on years ago. In particular, the podcast puts the spotlight on his longtime chauffeur, whose identity is concealed for his own safety.
"The drivers started to sense that something was wrong because we kept picking up these younger women and bringing them to his house, or bringing them back," Epstein's former chauffeur explained. "So they used to, jokingly, they used to say Epstein was a pedophile, but it was like a joke in the office. Nobody knew for sure, but we used to say, 'Oh yeah, what are you doing today?' 'Oh, I’ve got to go pick up the pedophile.' And then all this comes out and it was true."
But how could someone who spent that much time with the disgraced financier truly not know something was amiss? It's possible that Epstein was just savvy at keeping his secrets. "So the deal with being a chauffeur is that you don’t say nothing, you don’t talk unless somebody talks to you," his former driver explained. "If they want to talk, then you have a conversation. So you kind of keep quiet and go where you’ve got to go. So he kind of, I wasn’t even in the car as far as he was concerned."
He also remembered times he would pick up Epstein from Teterboro airport, when there were sometimes "five cars outside of the plane and he would get in one and right-hand woman Ms. Ghislaine Maxwell and the girls would get in another, and then people I really don’t recognize would get in other cars because it just seemed like he wanted to keep everybody separated."
Epstein's chauffeur was not the only former employee that host Danielle Robay and the "Devil in the Darkness" team spoke to for the episode. Diedre Stratton, who worked at Epstein's Zorro Ranch — which remains his only American property not raided by federal agencies — said the staff's job was to make sure there was "rather like a stable full of willing massage therapists" available whenever Epstein visited. She said he was "always nice and polite" and that he "was very careful not to do anything terribly lascivious in front of the staff" during her employment.
"It was not at all out in the open," Stratton said. "Once in a while I would see a girl sit on his lap in the kitchen, but that’s all ... You didn’t see anything and nobody ever told you anything. You would think some of those younger women would say 'geezers, creezers, I hate coming out here' ... they never did." She added, "Then I kick myself later thinking well what should I have done? Or what would I have done had she said, you know, 'he tried to come onto me sexually.' You know, I don’t know. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?"
Epstein's former chauffeur has similar feelings of regret. "I feel kind of bad that I didn’t do something then because obviously there was something going on and I was not smart enough to see it or to do anything about it then," he confessed.
Even people connected to those who worked for Epstein didn't necessarily know who he was ... or the heinous acts he might have been committing right under their noses. Ean Royal, whose father worked in general maintenance on the ranch, said his dad wouldn't even tell him who he worked for. That's not surprising, considering Nancy Sowle — who ran the local store — said Epstein’s workers had to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Why was everyone willing to go along with the secrecy, even when it seemed like something sordid might be happening? Several of the staffers had the same answer: money and security.
"The pilots were afraid of him," Epstein's chauffeur said. "They didn’t want to lose their job. They didn’t want to upset him because he was nuts, but I mean they flew the plane. They knew who was on it, they know where they were going ... But they very rarely, they never talked about anything that went on with passengers or with anybody that was on the plane."
He added, "What kind of conscience did they have that they didn't come forward? It just goes to show you: greed. They would lose their job obviously because when he went to jail the first time, they were out of work for 13 months because they couldn’t fly anywhere. So obviously they tried to protect themselves and they didn’t care about the girls ... You’ve got this guy that’s overpowering them and giving them money. It’s a sad state of affairs. Who knew that this guy was doing the things that he was doing?"
Stratton offered a similar sentiment. "I mean, like everybody else, no one wanted to cut their gravy train." So as everyone around him kept quiet, Epstein's crimes continued ... until finally, his luck ran out.
“Epstein: Devil In Darkness” is produced by the creators of “Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood" one of the most downloaded podcast series of 2018. The series was also named to Apple Podcasts’ Most Downloaded New Shows of 2018 and received a 2019 Webby Best Series honoree nod from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.