The indictment against Jeffrey Epstein for allegedly trafficking underage girls has renewed attention on the billionaire sex offender’s circle of rich and powerful friends.
Epstein had close ties in the mid-2000s to former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Ehud Barak, the former prime minister of Israel. President Donald Trump also considered Epstein a friend, describing the mysterious financier as a “terrific guy” in a 2002 media profile.
Epstein’s Rolodex, which was leaked in 2011, was also filled with the names of easily recognizable politicians and celebrities, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Dustin Hoffman, and Elizabeth Hurley. Mick Jagger and Rupert Murdoch are also listed in the book, as are politicians Tony Blair, Michael Bloomberg, Andrew Cuomo, and Ted Kennedy.
Epstein’s legal problems initially did not block his access to his high-profile friends.
The Daily Beast reported in 2011 that Epstein hosted George Stephanopoulos, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, Woody Allen and other celebrities at a dinner at his New York City townhouse in December 2010, more than a year after Epstein has served 13 months in jail for soliciting prostitution from a minor.
According to the report:
On the evening of December 2nd, 2010, a handful of America’s media and entertainment elite—including TV anchors Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos, comedienne Chelsea Handler, and director Woody Allen—convened around the dinner table of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. It wasn’t just any dining room, but part of a sprawling nine-story townhouse that once housed an entire preparatory school.
Epstein left jail in July 2009, after serving 13 months of an 18 month sentence in Florida as part of a plea deal in which he admitted to soliciting prostitution from a minor under the age of 18.
The FBI had uncovered evidence during an investigation that Epstein had engaged in sex acts with as many as three dozen underage girls. But while facing a life prison sentence, Epstein struck the lenient deal with Alexander Acosta, who then served as U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida. As part of the agreement, Epstein and his associates were granted immunity from federal prosecution related to any sex crimes in Florida.
He registered as a sex offender in New York in November 2011, according to The Miami Herald.
Epstein, 66, now faces charges for similar crimes in New York City.
In an indictment unsealed on Monday, Epstein is accused of trafficking dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005 in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. The indictment alleges that Epstein and two assistants paid hundreds of dollars in cash to girls as young as 14 to give him massages while nude or partially nude. Epstein would allegedly grope and fondle the girls while masturbating during the massages, the government alleges.
Epstein also allegedly paid some of the girls to recruit other girls to give him massages.
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney handling the Epstein case, said at a press conference on Monday that nude photographs of underage girls were seized from Epstein’s New York residence.
It remains unclear whether any of Epstein’s high-profile pals were aware of his alleged activities.
In January 2015, Virginia Roberts, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, filed suit claiming that Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew and Alan Dershowitz when she was underage.
Dershowitz, who was a lawyer for Epstein, and Prince Andrew have vehemently denied Roberts’ claims.
Years before Epstein pleaded guilty in the Florida case, he hosted Bill Clinton more than two dozen times on his private Boeing 727, which has been dubbed the “Lolita Express.” Flight records obtained by Fox News in 2016 showed that Clinton flew 26 times on the jet, including five times without his Secret Service detail. Some of the flights were to Epstein’s home in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Not as much is known about Epstein’s relationship with Trump. But the future president did say in 2002 that he had been friends with Epstein for around 15 years, and considered him “a lot of fun to be with.”
“It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump told New York magazine.