Sex, Laws, and the Enigmatic Epstein

What aren't we being told about Jeffrey Epstein?

The usual media suspects report:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged [Jeffrey] Epstein on Monday with sex trafficking...

The indictment said that Mr. Epstein and his employees engaged in a sex-trafficking scheme, bringing dozens of vulnerable girls, some as young as 14, to his Upper East Side mansion and to his palatial compound in Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005.

Mr. Epstein, 66, then engaged in sex acts with the young women during naked massage sessions, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash, prosecutors said. He also asked some of the girls to recruit other girls, many of whom prosecutors say were underage, and paid them for bringing in new victims, the indictment said.

“This conduct, as alleged, went on for years and involved dozens of young girls, some as young as 14,” [prosecutor] Mr. Berman said. “The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.”

In an America that is more divided politically than it was during the Civil War when tens of thousands of Americans were actively trying to kill each other, we don't still agree on much, including on whether the sky is up or bears go in the woods.  But there is one issue all Americans unite on, and that is, that preying sexually on children is a Bad Thing.  The left doesn't want us to execute terrorists, psychopaths, or even cannibals, but for child molesters they'll occasionally even countenance a suggestion of the fact that capital punishment results in relatively few repeat offenders.

So for one brief, shining moment of bipartisanship, everyone can celebrate a perverted predator being brought to justice, locked up, and the key thrown away for the rest of his natural life plus 400 years or so.  The fact that he's filthy stinking rich simply makes it even more joyous.

Or so we're supposed to think, anyway; and maybe that's the reality.  Maybe we'll even be persuaded that it is the reality as the facts and evidence are displayed in open court, which is why we have courts: "justice must be seen to be done."

For now, though, there is an astonishingly long list of questions not being asked, false impressions being gratuitously given, and apparently faulty premises left unexamined.  Which is where Scragged comes in!  So buckle on your hazmat suit for a sordid swim.

The Nubility of Numbers

Countless doctorates have been earned by evolutionary psychologists researching the natural instinct of human beings to protect children.  Even in the worst excesses of war and violence, people who willingly hurt children are viewed as especial monsters.  We see this even in our utterly sexualized and otherwise-debauched culture.  We don't seem to have a problem with people dressing their children as prostitutes, but treat the kids according to their packaging and you'll be lucky to make it out of prison alive.

So when a prosecutor uses words connected with childhood such as "girls," we're almost automatically on his side and ready to stone the accused, our heads filled with vile imaginings of a pervert praying on preschoolers.  If that's what Mr. Epstein did, he certainly deserves everything he's likely to get.

But, even according to the charges, it is not: per the rap sheet, his victims were "vulnerable girls, some as young as 14."  In New York having sex with 14 year old girls is illegal, and it is distasteful everywhere.  Is it a hanging offense, though?  Wikipedia tells us:

The traditional common law minimum age is 14 for boys and 12 for girls - ages which have been confirmed by case law in some states... in Tennessee girls as young as 10 were married in 2001.  [emphasis added]

Now before you rush off to the vomitorium and delete your Scragged bookmark, let us hasten to emphasize that we are not defending, much less recommending, this practice.  Nor are we suggesting that it's OK to break laws against statutory rape, which it certainly seems Mr. Epstein has done.  He should pay a price for this, and court is the appropriate place for his penalty to be determined, not a lynch mob.

Should that price, though, be the life sentence that our media and government are trying to bandwagon him into?  It wasn't that long ago that such things were perfectly normal and accepted by all; even today, 14 is the legal age of consent in many places, not all of which are medieval Islamic barbarisms.

The plain truth is, there are many 14-year-olds who are perfectly aware of the birds and the bees and feel themselves adequately prepared to avail themselves of them: indeed, it happens in every high school in the land.  Once again, we agree that there's a difference between getting it on with a 15-year-old classmate versus a pension-aged billionaire - there's a reason we have the phrase "dirty old man."  We are simply asking if the national moral panic is entirely justified.

Trafficking, but Who's Driving?

We see another example of the government's less-than-honest framing of Mr. Epstein's crimes with their characterization of "trafficking."  Technically this is correct: Mr. Epstein apparently transported legally underage young women across state lines for sexual purposes.

Once again, though, this raises false ideas in the minds of the listeners: of kidnapped sex slaves locked up in a dungeon, forced to service countless men against their will, for no compensation, and with no hope of freedom.  As far as we've seen, this bears no resemblance to Mr. Epstein's predations.  Instead:

While working one weekend at a mall across from the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, Doe was approached by a fellow student from Royal Palm Beach High School, a feeder for Epstein’s underage massage corps. The other girl, who worked at Abercrombie & Fitch, had a proposition.

The teen told Doe, who was 16 at the time, that she could earn $200 by simply giving Epstein a brief massage at his Palm Beach residence. Doe’s friend noted that the massage would have to be performed naked or in some state of undress. In return for delivering Epstein a fresh face, the girl would pocket a $200 finder’s fee.

Which is, in fact, exactly what occurred; Ms. Doe freely chose to accept this offer, performed the requested services, received the agreed-upon fee, and was returned to freedom and her home immediately afterwards.  Her eventual reaction?

During a recorded call with Robson, a 14-year-old girl--who got $300 for massaging Epstein while wearing only thong panties-- asked how she could make more money. Robson replied, “The more you do, the more you get paid.”

That's right: far from fleeing in terror, Mr. Epstein's paramours were eager to receive more money in exchange for progressively more intimate acts, in between each of which they were free at home, able at any time to call for help from the police or even Mom or Dad.  But they didn't want or feel they needed help from anyone, they were just happy to get the money and felt it a fair exchange.

To repeat: in no way are we defending Mr. Epstein's sordid behavior or suggesting this should be acceptable.  It isn't anything remotely resembling sex slavery, though, and is only tendentiously "trafficking" since he put back all the girls where he found them, on schedule.

What it is, quite simply, is soliciting of prostitution: the world's oldest profession, tolerated in just about every major city, and even perfectly legal in parts of these United States.  So why is Mr. Epstein being portrayed as a combination of Hitler and Jack the Ripper?

Quite the contrary: it looks like we have here a willing seller and a willing buyer.  Isn't it a progressive, leftist value that "sex workers" deserve respect, and nobody has the right to tell a woman what she can and can't do with her body or for what compensation?  Isn't it the benighted, repressive Christofascists who're trying to lock sex entirely into the prison of monogamous matrimony?

Filthy Riches

Another burning question: Mr. Epstein is almost universally described as some variant of a "billionaire financier."  Such people are known in popular culture to have basically unlimited money, which they get from doing... well, something vague, but connected with Wall Street.  If you could understand what exactly yourself, presumably you'd be a Wall Street billionaire too.

Why, then, do other actual Wall Street Masters of the Universe have no idea what this guy does either?

After sex-trafficking charges were handed down on Monday, executive-suite financiers discussed how absent Epstein was from the field: “He’s supposed to run an enormous FX [foreign-exchange] trading firm,” said Enrique Diaz-Alvarez, chief risk officer at Ebury. “But I never once heard of him or his firm or anyone who worked or traded with him.” And as Forbes wrote in a 2010 blog post with a very direct title — “Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Is Not a Billionaire” — his money-management firm based in the U.S. Virgin Islands “generates no public records, nor has his client list ever been released.”

It is quite possible, though difficult, to make zillions by trading financial securities; that's how fellow Bond-villain George Soros accumulated his billions.  As the name implies, though, to do this you have to trade those securities with somebody else.  It seems that Mr. Epstein never trades with anyone.

Did he perhaps inherit his money?  Nope: he dropped out of college, taught for awhile at a private high school, worked for a brokerage for awhile, then started his own money management firm that doesn't seem to manage the money of anyone in particular.  Meanwhile, unlike everybody else in New York who works 24-hour days, he had plenty of time to squire Lolitas all over the Eastern seaboard in the company of Democrat grandees.

We may never know the truth.  One possibility that at least seems to fit the facts, though, is that Mr. Epstein's true core competencies are procurer of young women and blackmailer.  Bill Clinton, for example, has flown with Epstein on his private plane, including to his private island, over two dozen times - and lied about it.

Mr. Clinton's tastes for the ladies, including reluctant ones, is well known, but at least all his known targets have been of age.  Supposing he wished to sample fresher meat?  What might he be willing to pay to keep it a secret?  And we well know Hollywood is full off equally rich and equally debauched people with equally little personal self-control.

Bond and His Girls

Speaking of Mr. Epstein's private island: it reportedly contains a super-secure room nobody is permitted to enter, equipped with a large safe.

We might assume it to be stuffed with photos of his underaged girlfriends which would meet the legal definition of child pornography and would understandably not be the sort of thing he'd want just lying around.  But apparently he had such photos stashed away in an ordinary safe in his house in New York where investigators found them recently while executing a judge-endorsed search warrant.

For someone smart enough to be a billionaire, isn't that pretty dumb?  For that matter, his private island is in the U.S. Virgin Islands, under the jurisdiction of the FBI.  Wouldn't it make more sense to, instead, place his island and his private sins somewhere else in the Caribbean - the Dominican Republic, say, or the Turks and Caicos - where U.S. law enforcement can't easily reach and where the entire government, such as it is, can be easily kept at bay by someone with his resources?

There's only one obvious answer: he was worried about someone else getting into his files which only the U.S. government was powerful enough to prevent.  That sort of attacker can only be some other government.

Indeed, many governments regularly construct sexual "honey traps" to ensnare powerful and wealthy individuals, using either genuine or made-up evidence to force them to do their bidding.  Was this Mr. Epstein's true business and source of wealth?  The Russians, the Israelis, and many other well-funded intelligence agencies are known to engage in this sort of game, and certainly Mr. Epstein had every opportunity to obtain the kind of evidence they'd pay top dollar for.

Ex-Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who brokered a plea deal for similar sexual crimes with Mr. Epstein a decade ago, had something interesting to say about why the punishment then seemed so light:

I was told Epstein 'belonged to intelligence' and to leave it alone.

This sounds like the stuff of novels - but what if it isn't?  It sure would explain a lot that otherwise makes no sense.

Justice Delayed and Justice Denied

Which brings us to the biggest mystery of them all: with all the enormously powerful and rich friends Mr. Epstein has had for years and the obvious risks each and every one of them is running now that the Feds are digging around in his files - how is it possible he ever found himself in court in the first place?  Wouldn't the entire power structure of the entire western world be working overtime to protect him?

Yes, they are, and they have been - except for one:

Jeffrey Epstein turned Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago into another of his hunting grounds for young girls, leading Trump to bar him from the Florida resort, court papers claim.

“Trump allegedly banned Epstein from his Maralago Club in West Palm Beach because Epstein sexually assaulted a girl at the club,” according to the papers.

That's right: Alone among the entire constellation of A-list glitterati who knew about Mr. Epstein and his shenanigans, Donald Trump was the single, solitary person who did what any sane, normal human being would be expected to do: Throw him out on his ear.

Is it any wonder that our infinitely-corrupt media is trying ferociously to hang Mr. Epstein's sins on the one guy that couldn't tolerate having him around once he learned what he was up to?

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

You have a point about the MSM tryhing to attach him to Mr. Trump rather than to Mr. Clinton. Although they admit that the video they discuss was shot a long time before Mr. Epstein went to jail, they somehow omit the detail that Mr. Trump had barred Mr. Epstein from his club because Mr. Epstein had acted improperly with one of the girls who worked for Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump is seen partying at his Mar-a-Lago Club with financier Jeffrey Epstein in a November 1992 tape aired Wednesday by NBC News that shows the now-president dancing with cheerleaders, patting a woman on her backside, and appearing to point out other women to him.

Trump’s relationship with Epstein has come under renewed scrutiny since federal prosecutors brought new sex trafficking charges against him earlier this month, a development that led to the resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. Acosta negotiated a plea deal with Epstein in an earlier case that also involved allegations of abuse of dozens of young girls at his Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., homes.

While Trump and Epstein were known to have socialized in Palm Beach, where Trump’s club is located, the president has sought to downplay the extent of their relationship and said he had a falling out with the financier and cut off their relationship 15 years ago.

In the days leading up to Acosta’s resignation, Trump repeatedly said he was “not a fan” of Epstein.

The video, in which Trump is 46, was shot more than a decade before Epstein pleaded guilty to felony prostitution charges in Florida.

NBC News said the footage was shot for Faith Daniels’s talk show, “A Closer Look,” as part of a profile of the newly divorced Trump’s lifestyle. The network identified the women surrounding Trump at his club as cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills, who were in town for a game against the Miami Dolphins.

Trump is shown dancing with the women as music blares and pulling one of them closer to him and then patting her on her rear end.

Later in the video, Trump is shown greeting Epstein and two other new arrivals at the party, telling them, “C’mon, go inside.”

Trump later appears to be pointing out women to Epstein, as he stands beside him. Though his comments are not audible, NBC News said Trump appears to be saying, “Look at her, back there. … She’s hot.”

At another point, Trump whispers something inaudible in Epstein’s ear, and he doubles over in laughter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the video.

In a 2002 article on Epstein in New York magazine, Trump was quoted calling him a “terrific guy.”

“He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Trump said. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

July 18, 2019 6:29 PM

As hard as the media is trying to tieTrump to Epstein , they are trying to distance Clinton from him. No mention of the Lolita Express or the fellow travelers. Bill was on it a bunch of times and dismissed his Secret Service several times. All trips had squadrons of teens/preteens. But the story is about Trump nearly 30 years ago. Not sure I buy your “ near age of majority is good enough” argument . But the illegals often “escort “ very young females across the border and quickly melt into sanctuary cities with little notice. And the Dems make the hero’s. So maybe our values are becoming more 3rd World.

July 18, 2019 8:17 PM

Epstein is a high paid pimp to the rich and famous. He is being protected by the deep state for one reason and it has nothing to do with "intelligence." It has to do with the people Epstein provided his "services" too over he years including Bill Clinton!

August 1, 2019 2:37 PM

New York Times report today on Epstein's suicide lists people associated with Epstein. Yep, Mr. Trump is number one on the list. Maybe it's alphabetical, nope C comes before T. Must be purely accidental.

August 10, 2019 11:12 PM

And, a million conspiracy theories get launched.

"Absolutely nobody is going to believe any official story that comes out about this."

Which couldn't be more perfect if, and Angelo Codevilla seems to believe, our elites WANT to trigger a civil war:

Those on the left will believe Trump had Epstein killed. Those on the right will believe Clinton did. Nobody will believe anything official, and our law enforcement systems take yet another hit they can't afford - to say nothing of any residual public confidence it, well, pretty much any sort of justice.

August 11, 2019 7:37 AM

I find Hobbes’s argument that 14 and 15 year olds are fair game, capable of informed consent, quite disturbing. Anyone who was once a teenager with an immature prefrontal cortex can recall decisions taken at those young ages that were later cause for regret. Fortunately for many of us, none were so consequential as the decision to exchange our bodies and sexuality for cash, and the experience of escalating demands such as participating in threesomes or servicing strange older men.

August 14, 2019 10:46 PM

@Anne Emerson Hall

I do not believe that Hobbes believes that. I think he is suggesting that Epstein believes that on the basis of a woman's right to choose and his liking it to gaiety which used to be forbidden but now is accepted by SCOTUS.

August 14, 2019 11:07 PM

Mr. Epstein is now decease, more questions will need to be answered.

August 24, 2019 9:06 PM

“But there is one issue all Americans unite on, and that is, that preying sexually on children is a Bad Thing....”

Wrong. The Left believes that YOU preying sexually on children is a Bad Thing. Themselves, not so much. Just wanted to fix it for ya.

October 19, 2019 8:12 PM

It gets curioser and curioser. The video from outside the cell during Mr. Epstein's first "suicide" attempt has gone missing...

December 19, 2019 12:50 PM

A Bloomberg news article about Mr. Epstein's circle of friends, and business associates.

He flew to his Caribbean islands on private jets and counted royalty among his friends. His business interests—those that can be identified, that is—were just as rarefied. Federal prosecutors, who say Epstein’s worth more than $500 million, arrested him earlier this month and charged him with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. The allegations came more than a decade after a deal in Florida saw him plead guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution instead of facing more serious federal sex-trafficking charges. Since Epstein’s arrest, Wall Street, Manhattan society, and corporate America have tried to distance themselves from the disgraced financier, who has pleaded not guilty. But the more that’s revealed about his life—and the tangle of political, legal, and business connections that sustained him—the more questions are raised. The piles of cash, diamonds, and an expired foreign passport—with Epstein’s photo and a different name—that prosecutors found in a safe in his Manhattan mansion only add to the intrigue. Getting a clear picture is challenging, but here’s a partial accounting of his entanglements.

Then it segues into timelines and lists of people.

July 8, 2020 2:12 PM
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