Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.
Following a case which drew an unusual public protest from a Palm Beach police chief against the leniency with which a billionaire sex offender had been treated, one of the alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, has filed a lawsuit against the prosecutors who gave a plea bargain deal to Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted in a Florida court in 2008. The lawsuit threatens to reopen a sordid episode in US criminal history, which could ensnare former president Bill Clinton as a material witness. If successful, the lawsuit could reopen the trial of Jeffrey Epstein.
Roberts has been determined by the details of her story to be "Jane Doe #3" in the lawsuit, which also includes "Jane Doe #1" and "Jane Doe #2". According to NBC News this February, Jane Doe 1 and 2 were age 14 and 13 respectively at the time of the abuse.
ABC News reported on February 11, 2016:
New court filings are bringing fresh attention to a Florida sex scandal that could become grist for political trouble in the 2016 Presidential campaign. The new legal filings allege that federal prosecutors in Florida “repeatedly” and “intentionally” violated the rights of dozens of teenage sex abuse victims by secretly negotiating an “extraordinarily lenient” deal with a wealthy Palm Beach financier known in the past to have socialized with powerful business and political figures -- including former President Bill Clinton and current GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
Bill Clinton "Must Have Known"
The sensational "sex slave" story, which reportedly involved girls as young as 12, made headlines around the world after billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's association with public figures such as Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton became known.
A spokesman for Trump said, of Trump's association with Epstein, that there was “not much to tell.” The spokesman, Alan Garten, told ABC News:
“Mr. Trump knew Epstein because he sometimes socialized at Mr. Trump's club, Mar-a-Lago.”
Clinton's association thus far has been more problematic, with Roberts describing in detail a dinner at Epstein's private island mansion at which she said Clinton was present, along with what Roberts believes to have been two underage girls. Virginia Roberts told the UK Daily Mail of the alleged dinner:
"I only ever met Bill twice but Jeffrey had told me that they were good friends.'I asked, “How come?” and he laughed and said, “He owes me some favours.” Maybe he was just joking but it constantly surprised me that people with as much to lose as Bill and [Prince] Andrew weren’t more careful. Bill must have known about Jeffrey’s girls. There were three desks in the living area of the villa on the island. They were covered with pictures of Jeffrey shaking hands with famous people and photos of naked girls, including one of me that Jeffrey had at all his houses, lying in a hammock. We all dined together that night. Jeffrey was at the head of the table. Bill was at his left. I sat across from him. Emmy Tayler, Ghislaine’s blonde British assistant, sat at my right. Ghislaine was at Bill’s left and at the left of Ghislaine there were two olive-skinned brunettes who’d flown in with us from New York. I’d never met them before. I’d say they were no older than 17, very innocent-looking."
Roberts says she saw "no evidence" that Clinton was interested in the girls at the dinner, only that Clinton was "very funny" and that the two young brunettes "listened politely and giggled."
ABC News has published flight log entries for Epstein's private plane which show Bill Clinton as a passenger. Roberts says she never had sex with Clinton nor saw him involved with any underage girls. But Clinton's possible knowledge of Epstein's activities and inappropriate companions poses troublesome questions.
Epstein was investigated by Palm Beach, Florida police of engaging in sex acts with as many as 40 underage girls. Roberts said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew and other prominent public figures, in what amounted to a sex slave ring.
Epstein, for his part, said that the underage girls had lied about their age.
How Is Alan Dershowitz Implicated?
The scandal erupted again last year when famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who represented Epstein and obtained what has been termed a "sweetheart deal" for him, was snared in the allegations himself. Roberts named Dershowitz as one of the men she was forced to have sex with, which Dershowitz has vehemently denied.
Dershowitz has also gone to bat for ex-president Clinton, maintaining that all of Robert's allegations that she had ever seen Clinton on the island are false. Dershowitz does not officially represent Clinton, and so it is not clear if the denial comes from Clinton himself. In court testimony, Dershowitz carefully hedged his statements saying that he did not "believe" Clinton had ever been on the island, but that he could not rule out the possibility.
In court proceedings, when asked directly “Do you know former President Clinton personally?” Epstein pleaded the Fifth Amendment. He did similarly when asked if he socialized with underage girls in the company of former Democratic New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, Donald Trump, magician David Copperfield, and attorney Alan Dershowitz, according to The Daily Caller.
Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter Protests
New York Magazine reports that Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter was "enraged" when he learned of the plea deal being prepared by prosecutors for Epstein which amounted to a light wrist slap, in essence a year in a private wing of a low-security prison with up to 16 hours a day liberty to spend at his office. New York Magazine reports that Reiter:
"accused the state attorney of bending over backward for a rich man..."
Chief Reiter went public with a letter which said:
“I do not feel that justice has been sufficiently served.”
The Daily Beast in an in-depth series on the Epstein civil case reported:
"The details that eventually emerged were often shocking and occasionally bizarre. For Epstein’s birthday one year, according to allegations in a civil suit, he was presented with three 12-year-old girls from France, who were molested then flown back to Europe the next day. These same civil complaints allege that young girls from South America, Europe, and the former Soviet republics, few of whom spoke English, were recruited for Epstein’s sexual pleasure."
The New York Post reported similarly of court documents it had viewed:
"He also molested girls he had brought in from South America and Europe and once was given three 12-year-old girls from France as a “birthday gift,” the documents alleged."
A big numbers donor to many charities, Epstein once reportedly contributed $3.5 million to Bill and Hillary's Clinton Foundation. The question has arisen of whether Epstein's constellation of powerful friends in politics had anything to do with the extraordinarily lenient treatment he received for having sex with multiple minors, which, many observers have noted, ordinarily would have meant a lifetime in jail.
Of his relationship with President Clinton, one of Epstein's attorneys wrote a letter to the court which said:
“former President Clinton aptly described Mr. Epstein as ‘a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first century science.’ President Clinton reached this conclusion during a month-long trip to Africa with Mr. Epstein, which Mr. Epstein hosted. The purpose of that trip was to increase AIDS awareness; to work towards a solution to the AIDS crisis; and to provide funding to reduce the costs of delivering medications to those inflicted (sic) with the disease.”
Virginia Roberts and Other Plaintiffs
Although subjected to a full-scale assault on her credibility by Dershowitz and Epstein's other attorneys, Virginia Roberts and the other plaintiffs are not backing away from their allegations, and seem to have evidence to back their assertions. Last year the UK Guardian reported:
"Dismissed as a liar and a fantasist by Epstein allies, Roberts filed with her affidavit on Friday previously undisclosed receipts for a flight from New York to Thailand in September 2002 and a stay costing several thousand dollars at the Royal Princess hotel in Chiang Mai. All the bills appeared to have been paid for by “J Epstein”."
Roberts says that at times during her involuntary "sex slavery" to Epstein, she was physically assaulted by various men so badly that she was afraid she would die. She said:
“There were times when I was physically abused to the point that I remember fearfully thinking that I didn’t know whether I was going to survive,”
Roberts has also said she believes the US authorities are in possession of videotapes of her as an underage girl having sexual relations with powerful men. As reported in The Guardian she has said:
“Based on my knowledge of Epstein and his organisation, as well as discussions with the FBI, it is my belief that federal prosecutors likely possess videotapes and photographic images of me as an underage girl having sex with Epstein and some of his powerful friends,”
As Hillary Clinton once again vies for the presidency, some are speculating on whether, even if not under suspicion for engaging in any illegal activity himself, Clinton might not be subpoenaed in the lawsuit as a material witness, who was possibly aware of untoward activity taking place. Were this to happen, it is certain the spectacle would become a national circus.
Leslie McCowen from Cape Cod, USA on March 07, 2016:
I have a feeling NO ONE is going to get involved in this one. This guy may be the Jimmy Saville of America. Who knows how many big shots are in his orbit? I once saw pic of Chelsea Handler and Katie Couric at a party of his...and that made me wonder, too. We of the normal day to day world have NO clue what upper echelons lives are like.
Once saw show on e network, secrets of hollywood. Sex drugs and rock n roll. Oh, and prosecutorial immunity.
There is a movie out called Witches or something, supposed to show the truth about hollywood.
They must all keep the secrets for each other, or the whole house of Cards falls.