A lawsuit filed by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands says Jeffrey Epstein used his private island there to engage in sex trafficking operations that involved multiple Epstein-run shell companies and ensured hundreds of underage girls.
“Epstein created a network of companies and individuals who participated in and conspired with him in a pattern of criminal activity related to the sex trafficking, forced labor, sexual assault, child abuse, and sexual servitude of these young women and children,” the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Denise George said.
The lawsuit said Epstein’s alleged trafficking began in 2001 and continued through 2018.
Epstein brought girls as young as 11 or 12 to Little St. James, an island he owned in the Virgin Islands, and tracked women and girls through a database, the lawsuit said.
“Epstein engaged in a pattern and practice of trafficking and sexually abusing young women and female children on this private, secluded island,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit against Epstein’s estate wants the estate to forfeit Little St. James and a second private island, Great St. James, as well as dissolve what the lawsuit said were shell companies that were used in the alleged trafficking.
George said that if successful, the government of the Virgin Islands could use the proceeds of assets recovered from the estate to pay out victims of the operation.
“The conduct of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates shocks the conscience and betrays the deepest principles and laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” George said in a statement. “The Virgin Islands is not, and will not, be a safe haven for human trafficking or sexual exploitation.”
Since Epstein’s death, celebrities from Prince Andrew to former President Bill Clinton have come under scrutiny for their relationships with him.
“The complaint speaks for itself and lays out allegations of a pattern and practice of human trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor of young women and female children as young as 13 years old,” George told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
The lawsuit said young women were “deceptively subjected to sexual servitude, forced to engage in sexual acts and coerced into commercial sexual activity and forced labor.”
It said that Virgin Islands airport personnel reported seeing Epstein leave his plane with girls who appeared to be as young as 11 years old.
“The Epstein Enterprise facilitated and participated in the sexual molestation and exploitation of numerous girls between the age of 12 and 17 years old,” the lawsuit said.
It said Epstein refused to allow a Virgin Islands investigator access to his island as recently as 2018.
Because of the secluded nature of the island, the lawsuit said, “Epstein and his associates could avoid detection of their illegal activity from Virgin Islands and federal law enforcement and prevent these young women and underage girls from leaving freely and escaping the abuse.”
The lawsuit said that aspiring models from South America, among others, would be rotated in and out of his private islands, using fake modeling visas.
Two girls tried to leave the island, according to the lawsuit. It said a 15-year-old girl tried to swim to freedom but was caught; her passport was taken from her to keep her captive. A second victim who said she was forced to have sex tried to flee but was caught and threatened with harm, the lawsuit said.
George said the case could change the image of the region as a place where the rich and powerful can evade the law.
“We will not remain complacent, and we will enforce our laws whatever way we can,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the social status of the person. It’s that the laws apply equally.”
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