Jeffrey Epstein is dead, but that doesn't mean the battle for justice is over. Episode 10 of the “Epstein: Devil in the Darkness” podcast uncovers what happened after Epstein got his infamous "sweetheart deal," and how shocked he and everyone else was when he was arrested on charges of sex trafficking in 2019 — including his alleged victims, who were "pessimistic" things would end any differently the second time around.
By 2010, Epstein was out of jail after serving 13 months of his already brief 18-month stint behind bars. The prison time didn't seem to have much impact on him. To celebrate his release, he even had a party that several famous faces attended — Woody Allen, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Britain’s Prince Andrew among them. (For what it's worth, Buckingham Palace says the Prince’s visit was meant to end his friendship with Epstein.) His alleged co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, was there as well.
After Epstein served his time, it seemed like his life went back to normal and nothing changed. But all the while, young women continued to come forward accusing him of abuse. For instance, two women actually sued the federal government because they were not properly notified of his 2008 plea deal before it was accepted. Plus, in January 2015, alleged victim Virginia Roberts filed court papers in Florida claiming abuse from Epstein and some of his high-profile friends — including Prince Andrew — with the alleged sex trafficking being facilitated with help from Maxwell.
Journalist Andy Tillett calls Roberts "extraordinarily brave" for providing photographs of herself with Epstein, Maxwell and with Prince Andrew. "She was basically standing up and saying, 'this isn’t good enough, this man has not faced justice,'" he says.
But he would. Between 2015 and July 2019, several young women filed lawsuits against the disgraced businessman. Some chose to do so anonymously, while others identified themselves and claimed they suffered abuse at his Manhattan, Little St. James and New Mexico ranch residences. Spencer Kuvin was an attorney on some of those early civil suits and says on the podcast that when he took Mr. Epstein’s deposition twice, he always seemed "smug" and refused to answer questions. "I guess the best way to describe it is just creepy," Kuvin says.
Even as Epstein walked free, work was being done behind the scenes to make sure justice was served. Finally, on July 6, 2019, when his jet arrived at Teterboro airport in New Jersey from Paris, France, he was arrested on charges of sex trafficking.
"It was apparently a complete surprise to him," attorney Gloria Allred says of the disgraced financier's arrest. "Sometimes the target of an investigation can make arrangements through his attorney to turn himself in rather than suddenly and abruptly being arrested without any notice. That didn’t happen here ... He was very, very surprised and he was not getting the sweetheart treatment that he received many years earlier."
"There is no reason in the world that Jeffrey Epstein would leave France where he wouldn’t be extradited for this type of criminal misconduct with the abuse of the underage girls and trafficking," Epstein's former business associate Steven Hoffenberg says, confirming that the arrest was "shocking" to Epstein.
FBI agents executed search warrants for Epstein's Manhattan townhouse that same night. "There were hundreds, maybe thousands of photographs of nude women, some of them underage," journalist Melissa Cronin, who has been inside the property, reveals on the podcast. She says there were also countless DVDs and CDs with girls' names on them. "What was on those discs?" she questions.
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These new developments meant other alleged victims felt emboldened to speak out. "I think the goal of this indictment was to hold him and have other women come forward," Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz speculates. "That's commonly done ... You get a search warrant, you make a public announcement, and maybe other victims come forward."
Kuvin says the new case made his clients from the 2008 investigation "very hopeful that things would be different" this time. "But also practical," he adds. "They looked at it and said, 'Look, I hope it’s different but it wouldn’t surprise me if things happen the same way.' ... The young women were pessimistic as to whether or not the U.S. Attorney’s Office the second time around would actually do the right thing because they clearly saw that the US Attorney’s Office didn’t do the right thing the first time around."
When Epstein appeared in court to request bail on July 18, the judge also allowed some of his victims to speak. "I don't remember Mr. Epstein turning around to see the victims as they spoke but he couldn’t help but hear them and I was glad they had the opportunity," Allred says on the episode. "How much of an impact that had on the court, no one will ever know."
The actual scope of Epstein's crimes may never be known. "I can tell you that we were aware of the FBI had interviewed over 40 young girls and that was during the initial investigation in 2006 - 2007," Kuvin says. "I think that the span of time that Mr. Epstein was abusing young women and the volume and breadth of the investigation that there could have been hundreds of women ... girls, young girls."
When authorities in France announced their own investigation, the case went international, and it seemed that, at last, Epstein might be brought to justice. Then a judge unsealed hundreds of documents from an earlier lawsuit by Roberts against Maxwell as Epstein awaited trial, in what Tillett calls "a huge bombshell." Still, as of the recording of the episode, none of Epstein's alleged co-conspirators have been charged.
The public and his accusors alike were stunned on August 20, 2019, when Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. His autopsy deemed his passing a suicide, but many are still suspicious of the details surrounding it. For now, those close to the case want to keep the focus on the women still trying to heal from his alleged abuse. Attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing a number of Epstein’s victims, says, "We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Jeffrey Epstein victims who have been hanging in there for many, many years."
"Before 2008 ... all the way up to the present, filing lawsuits, not giving up, working with law enforcement. And the journalists who have stayed on this story. That’s what it takes," Bloom adds. "A lot of people have known about Jeffrey Epstein and what a monster he was for so many years. And yet, he was allowed to get away with it ... God bless everybody who got us to this day. It shouldn’t have had to take an army. That’s what it took."
“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.
“Epstein: Devil In Darkness” releases new episodes every Thursday.