- A new true-crime docuseries released Wednesday by Netflix recounts the investigation into the global “molestation pyramid scheme” run by disgraced financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
- The four-part series includes never-before-seen interviews with a former employee of Epstein, investigators from the Palm Beach Police Department, the novelist James Patterson, and several of Epstein’s victims.
- Victims allege that Epstein sexually abused them as teenagers starting in 1996 and trafficked hundreds of girls and women across the globe for a decade.
- Epstein was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking minors when he was found dead by apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail on August 10.
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For the more than a dozen women who publicly accused disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein of running a global sex trafficking ring, speaking at a 2019 hearing where the charges against Epstein were dismissed after his death was the closest they got to a day in court.
In “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” a new docuseries on Netflix, the survivors found another way to enter their stories into the public record. Using video footage of survivors’ original statements and interrogations of Epstein himself, interviews with detectives and journalists, news report, and home videos, the four-part series paints a compelling picture of how the former financier managed to escape justice while running what one Palm Beach detective called a “molestation pyramid scheme” for a decade.
The first part of the docuseries opens with the stories of Maria and Annie Farmer, sisters who reported being abused by Epstein to the FBI in 1996 — nearly a decade before the Palm Beach Police Department opened the investigation that ended with former Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta’s controversial plea deal.
The documentary is largely narrated by the victims themselves, with interjections from journalists and members of the Palm Beach Police Department who investigated Epstein. The novelist James Patterson — an executive producer of the series who is introduced as a neighbor of Epstein’s but says he didn’t know the sex offender personally — also makes an appearance.
Epstein’s backstory and personal connections aren’t introduced until the second episode, though the victims interviewed suggest that those connections became the focal point of the media’s attention.
“It went from being a harrowing story about trafficking and abuse to completely [about] Prince Andrew,” said Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of the survivors prominently featured in “Filthy Rich.” “I wasn’t Prince Andrew’s prostitute, because I was trafficked to him and I was a kid.”
That’s not to say that the documentary doesn’t highlight Epstein’s network of powerful friends and acquaintances. It includes interviews with a former employee of Epstein’s who said that he saw the late sex offender chatting with former President Bill Clinton on the multimillionaire’s private island off the coast of St. Thomas and witnessed Prince Andrew molesting a then-teenage Giuffre by the pool.
Both Clinton and Buckingham Palace denied those allegations in statements to the filmmakers. Clinton previously said through a spokesperson in July 2019 that though he previously traveled with Epstein, he hadn’t spoken to the registered sex offender in “well over a decade” and that Clinton “knows nothing about the terrible crimes.” In “Filthy Rich,” Giuffre said she never saw Clinton take part in any of the abuse.
The bulk of the series recounts the Palm Beach Police Department’s 2006 investigation into Epstein. In a series of interviews, victims recall being abused by other men at the behest of Epstein and his associate British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. (Maxwell has denied any participation in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes. No charges have been filed against her.)
In “Filthy Rich,” Giuffre named OJ Simpson defense attorney Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew as two of the men she was trafficked to. Dershowitz denied Giuffre’s allegations during an appearance in the film, while Buckingham Place “emphatically denied” that Prince Andrew ever had sexual contact with Giuffre in a statement to filmmakers.
In one of the most tense moments of the series, Dershowitz jabs his finger and shouts into the camera, challenging Giuffre to publicly accuse him of abusing her and claiming that she never has. In the next scene, she does.
Lawyers for the victims also allege that Epstein used a network of women, including Maxwell, to recruit new children for the trafficking ring, even paying some victims $200 to recruit other underage girls to give him massages that devolved into abuse.
“Epstein did not act alone, so my next step is holding other people accountable,” Giuffre said in the last moments of the series. “The people that were involved. The people that participated. There are so many of them out there. None of them have been held accountable. We were kids being trafficking under their eyes, under their nose. They knew exactly what was going on, and they didn’t say anything about it.”
“Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” is rated TV-MA for depictions of suicide, sexual violence, and language. The entire four-part series is now streaming on Netflix.