With the news that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has died by suicide while in US custody, his victims won't see the justice they deserve. A federal investigation has begun into his death yet still, there's so little mention in the press of how a predator can no longer be held accountable for hurting so many young girls.
Sixty-six-year-old Epstein faced up to 45 years in prison on US federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges when he died by suicide over the weekend. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges. A federal investigation has begun into the circumstances surrounding his death as multiple reports say that he had been on suicide watch prior to being found on Saturday.
A judge had denied a bail offer involving Epstein’s real estate valued at tens of millions of dollars - the same wealth and status he used to lure his victims - ruling that Epstein was a “danger to others and the community.”
Authorities in three separate jurisdictions opened investigations into the death and alleged victims have naturally expressed outrage at not being able to confront Epstein in court.
The how he died - which many US media outlets have chosen to focus on - largely remains irrelevant in this case. He has died and as a result, his victims will never get the closure they should have, never get to see him take responsibility for his actions in a court of law.
What was he charged with?
Court documents allege that Epstein recruited dozens of victims, some as young as 14 and some of whom he trained to recruit others. Others victims have alleged that Epstein or his associates assigned them for abuse by other men. With details that are dark and disturbing continuing to emerge over the last number of hours, including fresh details on how Epstein allegedly groomed girls sexual abuse, recruiting the victims at schools or, in one significant case, at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Florida resort, according to documents sealed in 2017, now open as part of the 2019 investigation.
With many bizarre conspiracy theories floating around, the bigger question remains: how did he get away with his crimes for so long without stringent action being taken?
From one of my Jeffrey Epstein victim clients this morning. pic.twitter.com/8gRozyQPMP
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) August 10, 2019
Police began investigating him in 2005 after the mother of an underage girl alleged that he had molested her, but even then, there was an outcry when he struck up a plea deal that saw him avoid federal charges - charges that would have come with a lengthy prison sentence.
A botched plea deal
Before a bombshell report broke prior to his arrest last month, lawyers for Epstein brokered a much-criticised plea deal in Florida in 2008 that closed a federal inquiry involving at least 40 girls under 18 years of age. Under this arrangement, Epstein registered as a sex offender and pleaded guilty to state charges, which presented a minimal jail time.
Support for the victims
Even with news of his death, the investigation remains ongoing. The Guardian reports three new investigations had been launched within 24 hours - by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the inspector general’s office of the justice department and the New York medical examiner - as it stands, the case will continue.
This is something, but will do little to comfort the dozens of women whom Epstein allegedly abused.
Monica Lewinsky, who made headlines this week when it was announced she will produce a new series on the Clinton scandal of the nineties, tweeted her support of the women involved:
what strange news to awaken to. to all those young women who may be suffering today as a result of epstein’s death, i send my love + supportive thoughts. may your core strength + emotional stability be nearby. ??
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) August 10, 2019
Alleged victims have also called for investigations of alleged criminal activity by Epstein and associates to be continued. “Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served,” said Jennifer Araoz, who accused Epstein of sexually assaulting her when she was 15. “I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims.”
14. Jennifer Araoz, who told @SavannahGuthrie that Jeffrey Epstein raped her when she was 15-years-old, has released a statement on his death.
“I am angry Jeffrey Epstein won’t have to face his survivors of his abuse in court.”
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) August 10, 2019
Epstein's death means that the course of action must be reverted but action must be taken nevertheless. In taking his own life, Epstein has also seen to it that it's his name - rather than those of his victims - which will remain in the headlines.
We cannot forget his victims.
What's happened is a far cry from justice. Instead, it's a disgraced, powerful man who, in dying by suicide, made sure that he would never see retribution for his apparent crimes.
Main photograph: @TheHill