[Commentary] Jeffrey Epstein’s Associates Can No Longer Run — Ghislaine Maxwell Denied Bail
One frustrating constant in the justice system is that powerful people and those close to them never seem to face consequences for their crimes commensurate with those of the general public. Whether through connections, payoffs, or simply prestige, they always seem to be able to dodge the punishments anyone else would face.
Jeffrey Epstein and the child sex trafficking ring he’s accused of running are a particular source of frustration. Epstein was a wealthy man who was connected to others of wealth and political power. When we discuss the crimes he was arrested for, former President Bill Clinton and current President Donald Trump are sure to be brought up, as well as royalty, and private jets, and a private island. If one digs into Epstein’s connections further, other names that are less prominent but still connected to power turn up. The District Attorney who, in 2008, worked out a plea deal that allowed Epstein to go free, for example, is Alex Acosta — who would later become Donald Trump’s labor secretary.
NHPR reported on Epstein’s 2008 case, in which the plea deal included sealing the investigation from public view, and immunity for him and his associates on sex trafficking charges, in return for pleading guilty to two charges — procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute. He was sentenced to a mere year and a half in prison.
Now, however, it seems that the shields on Epstein and others in his circle have finally worn off. While Epstein himself died in prison without ever facing his charges, two associates charged with helping him carry out sex crimes on underaged children have been charged, and they may not walk away as easily as Epstein did over a decade ago.
Jean-Luc Brunel, who runs a modeling agency and has been accused of supplying underaged girls to Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, was arrested in France earlier this month, on charges of sex trafficking. He was waiting to board a plane at the time.
Now, Ghislaine Maxwell, who victims say was instrumental in grooming them for Epstein, and who was arrested earlier this year, is being denied bail again. According to Raw Story, Maxwell’s lawyers have tried to negotiate a release in the amount of $28.5 million in bail, plus home confinement and tracking monitors. Judge Alison J. Nathan, in Manhattan federal court, denied her again, saying she remains a flight risk.
It’s beginning to look like those in Epstein’s inner circle might not walk away from these charges so easily after all.
Update: a previous version of this story incorrectly named Acosta as the current labor secretary. This has been corrected.