My Brain is Occupied with the Jeffrey Epstein News Story

Hey Friends. I had a different blog post planned for today, but the news about the Epstein arrest, and some of the details that are coming out in conjunction with that story, have occupied my brain.

If you’re unfamiliar, the news story involves a whole bunch of men that you know the names of, and the rape of dozens (perhaps hundreds) of young teen girls in the 13 to 15 age range. It’s horrific. So if you need to stay away, I get that.

Let me get you caught up. You may remember early last December when I linked to this long and well researched 3-part story from the Miami Herald. It’s about Jeffrey Epstein and how he was caught running a child sex trafficking ring, but wasn’t really ever punished. He got a “sweetheart” deal that included a small amount of prison time β€” but he could leave for 12 hours per day on “work release.”

If you haven’t read the Miami Herald story yet, I hope you will. It’s an important story and it’s a super clear demonstration of how powerful men protect each other. It also made me incredibly grateful for the work journalists do at regional newspapers around the country.

Anyway, I was really shocked when I read that article. Like, I know wealthy people are treated differently in court, but this is child porn and child rape we’re talking about. Surely, serious crimes like that wouldn’t just be ignored? Right?

Nope. It was totally ignored. Even hidden.

In fact, journalist Vicky Ward said that in 2002, she was assigned to write a profile of Jeffrey Epstein for Vanity Fair. The profile included the brave stories a two women who had come forward about abuse at the hands of Epstein. But her editor made her cut the stories of the women. Again, powerful men protecting powerful men. You can read Vicky’s thread about this here.

Ever since I read the Miami Herald article, I’ve been following the story. Would anything come of it? Would they reopen the case? Would there ever be justice for all those victims?

Then, on Saturday I read a headline that Epstein had been taken into custody. I almost didn’t dare believe it. I tweeted out the article and wrote: Please be real news. Please be real news.

It is real news. He’s been arrested. They opened the doors of his 21,000 square foot Manhattan mansion with a crowbar, did a search, and found a huge stockpile of child pornography, as well as some CD-Roms in a safe β€” which we don’t know the contents of yet. The whole thing is incredibly disturbing.

In addition to Epstein’s name, Alex Acosta’s name has come up. He negotiated the sweetheart deal for Epstein, and people are demanding he resign. Alan Dershowitz’s name has come up. He’s been accused of raping children. Bill Clinton’s name has come up. He flew on Epstein’s private plane on four different trips.

And Donald Trump’s name has come up. Remember when he was accused of raping a 13 year old? Well, it happened at Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan apartment. And there are multiple signed affidavits from witnesses who saw it happen. If you can stomach it, you can read about the case and the evidence here. She received so many threats she eventually withdrew the case. (You can also read about it Newsweek.)

If you’re following the news story about Epstein, you’ll also come across people trying to figure out how he made his money β€” he’s reported to be a billionaire. Apparently he didn’t go to college, but was hired at the very expensive and very exclusive Dalton School, to teach math to teenagers. (And US Attorney General Bill Barr’s father, was then the head of school.) I’ve seen a few people speculate that he captures images of his financial clients having sex with kids and then blackmails them. I can’t decide if that’s Occam’s Razor or just paranoia.

The news story is upsetting, but the reactions are too. Naturally, people are demanding justice and calling for any men involved to be held to account. Noah Schactman, Editor in Chief of The Daily Beast tweeted that everyone should be careful, because the story might bring down their allies as well as enemies:

A whole lot of people thought Noah’s tweet was ridiculous and I agree. I’m a Democrat and if there are any Democrats involved in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, then I hope they are brought to justice every bit as much as I hope any Republicans involved are brought to justice. Good lord. Prosecuting child rape is not a partisan issue.

And not just child rape. If you’re a man (or woman) who has sexually assaulted people, then I hope you’re held accountable. I mean Weinstein is a Democrat and you don’t see any Democrats defending him. A couple of sample responses to Mr. Schachtman:

Though I’ve seen thousands of Democrats over the weekend agree they are willing to cancel Bill Clinton or any other Dems associated with Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, it’s upsetting to me that I haven’t seen any Trump supporters say the same thing about Donald Trump. Maybe they’re out there, but I’ve looked, and I can’t find them.

That thought really has me down. They really don’t care that he raped a 13 year old while she screamed at him to stop, then slapped her and told her he can do whatever he wants, and then threatened to kill her family if she ever told anyone? Really? Do they just deny the whole thing? Try not to think about it? Do they think she wants fame? (Spoiler: she’s not famous, and her name isn’t public.) From what we’ve learned from the #MeToo movement, I think it’s very fair to say we have a much bigger problem with underreporting of rape than false accusations of rape.

Also discouraging to me: The thought that none of this will matter. I know Epstein’s been arrested, but will justice really be served? Will the men and women who enabled him be held to account as well? Will anything change, or will this news story be forgotten by Friday?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you get a chance to read the Miami Herald story? Have you been following news about Epstein today or over the weekend? What do you think will happen? Will he see real jail time? Any theories on how he made his money? Will his victims ever see justice? What would that look like?

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