The Netflix documentary series “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” shows the unorthodox story of American financer Jeffrey Epstein. Born in a low middle-class family, Epstein became a billionaire and controlled a sex trafficking ring that involved elite social circles from the USA for more than 20 years.
The four episodes of the series – “Hunting Ground”, “Follow the Money”, “The Island” and “Finding Their Voice” – expose how Epstein turned into a powerful man that used his money and influence to silence and stop those who dared to interfere in his obscure business.
It all started in 1996 when a journalist from renowned magazine Vanity Fair is delegated to write a report about a character from American high society: Jeffrey Edward Epstein. Things didn’t go as planned and what should be a typical magazine article ends up turning into a major scandal when the reporter finds out that Epstein has sexually assaulted underaged girls. However, the article wasn’t published back then, because both the reporter and the editor were threatened by Epstein and the magazine brought an article – probably after Epstein’s approval – showing the glamourous and luxurious life of the American businessman, who had connections with celebrities and the most powerful people from the high society, people such as Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Woody Allen, many other influent people and, of course, many beautiful women.
From that moment on, the documentary exposes a succession of hideous facts. With the help of his close and loyal companion, English socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein assembled a network of enablers to help carry out and cover up his crimes. The young victims were intimidated, threatened and deceived. Each girl was chosen with the promise to make $200 to work as a massagist. Most of the times, the “massage” ended in sexual harassment or rape. Attracted by the money, many of these girls started recruiting other friends to take part in the scheme. And that’s how Epstein’s sexual pyramid scheme quickly spread in the top levels of American society.
According to Dr. Kathryn Stamoulis, educational psychologist, the teenage brain is not ready to react or understand such situation. And when they realized what was really happening, most of the girls got extremely frightened to speak up against that powerful man. On the other hand, Epstein and his partners persuaded the most vulnerable girls offering international trips or school funding. It is even mentioned that some girls had fallen in love with Epstein and dreamed of marrying him.
Jeffrey Epstein was born in Coney Island, New York. During his school years, he was a brilliant student and despite his lack of credentials, he started teaching physics and mathematics for teens at the Dalton School in Manhattan. In 1976, using his influence, Epstein got a job at the investment bank Bear Stearns. A few years later, he became partner of tycoon Steven Hoffenberg, CEO of Towers Financial Corporation and the one who helped Epstein become a millionaire through a partnership in an illegal scheme that included manipulation, fake assets and illegal negotiations. The scheme was discovered and Hoffenberg was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, getting Epstein away with any loss or damages.
During that same period, Epstein became Lex Werner’s financial advisor and served as his right-hand man. As part of Wexner’s conglomerate there are companies like Victoria’s Secret and L Brands. From 1991 to 2006, he was responsible for businesses that reached up to U$1,31 billion. In 2007, Wexner broke all contacts with Epstein, after accusing him of stealing U$46 million. However, Wexner never did a formal accusation claiming to be embarrassed by the episode.
Owning luxurious properties in New York, Palm Beach and Paris, a ranch in New Mexico and a private island near Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; a helicopter and two private jets, Jeffrey Epstein used his empire to control a sex trafficking scheme for his own pleasure and also to please some close friends. The documentary shows that Prince Andrew, the third son of Queen Elizabeth II, attended some meetings with an underage girl, in The Virgin Islands and also in London. A few years later he denied all the accusations during an interview to BBC.
In 2003 the presence of teenage girls at Epstein’s house in Palm Beach got the neighbors’ attention and they called the police. The Palm Beach Police investigated him for seven months, but on the day of the search of his home, nothing suspicious was found. Later it was revealed that Epstein “bought” a team with eight of the best lawyers from the USA. They were responsible for investigating the Police investigation.
Epstein’s mansion in the Virgin Islands was also the place for many of the “meetings” with underage girls. It was his favorite place and was also known as “the pedophile island”. A former employee who worked in the mansion for several years stated that Epstein used to receive guests such as Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. He also said that there was a private telephone system and surveillance cameras all over the island.
The accusation of sexual harassment against Jeffrey Epstein emerged in 1996, through Vanity Fair’s journalist who was investigating the case of Maria and Anne Farmer. Back then, the sisters contacted the Police but admitted they had been ignored for a long time. In the documentary Maria confirms she was threatened by Ghislaine Maxwell multiple times and because of that she had to move to New York.
In 2006 the case started receiving more attention from the media and two years later, on June 30, 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. While most convicted sex offenders in Florida are sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Stockade and according to the sheriff’s office, was allowed to leave the jail for up to 12 hours a day. His cell door was left unlocked and he had access to the attorney room where a television was installed for him. He was allowed to use his own driver to drive him between jail and his office and other appointments.
Using their client’s influence and power, Epstein’s lawyers could intimidate victims and convince Alexander Acosta, then the US Attorney to agree to a plea deal and grant immunity from all federal criminal charges to Epstein. Acosta later said he offered a lenient plea deal because he was told that Epstein “belonged to intelligence”, was “above his pay grade” and to “leave it alone”.
Virginia Giuffre wanted to become a massagist and was attracted by the professional ascension promised by Epstein and Ghislaine. She was one of the survivors and according to the documentary, was kept as a sexual slave being raped by the businessman himself and also by some of his friends, including Prince Andrew. When the story emerged, the British press treated Giuffre as a prostitute and the Buckingham Palace had to release an official announcement to deny the accusations.
In 2017 the “Me Too” movement started growing in popularity. A year later the newspaper Miami Herald published an article about the controversial agreement sealed by Alexander Acosta and Jeffrey Epstein, what led a new judge to recognize that the Federal Government had violated criminal laws and a new hearing was scheduled, now with the presence of victims.
The FBI started investigating Epstein again and in July 2019, he was arrested at the New Jersey Airport as he arrived from a trip to France. Two days later, prosecutors with the Public Corruption Unit of New York charged him with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex. He requested to be released on bond, offering to post $100 million – later the value increased to $500 million – and the condition that he would also submit to house arrest in his New York mansion. US District Judge Richard Berman denied the request, saying that Epstein posed a danger to the public. Alexander Acosta resigned as Secretary of Labor on July 19.
On August 10, 2019 Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. The Bureau of Prisons said lifesaving measures were taken immediately upon the discovery of the body and he was taken to a hospital. The Bureau of Prisons and US Attorney General William Barr called the death an apparent suicide. It didn’t take long for the case to become the center of several conspiracy theories on the Internet. The suicide version has convinced Jeffrey’s brother, Mark Epstein, who hired a private investigation for the case.
Two days before his death, it was reported that Epstein had signed his last will and testament. The signing was witnessed by two attorneys that knew him. The will named two longtime employees as executors, and immediately gifted all of his assets to a trust. American media considers the possibility that Epstein knew that by doing so, it would make it harder for the victims’ indemnity.