Billionaire finacier Jeffrey Epstein ran a vast sex trafficking network for the wealthy and powerful (Picture: AP)
Epstein, along with his now-incarcerated partner Ghislaine Maxwell, spent years running a sex trafficking ring which catered to the ultra-wealthy and saw him mingle with prominent figures from business, politics and royalty.
In total, around 900 court documents are set to be released, which contain interviews, testimony and legal proceedings from those involved in the case.
The move comes following a settled defamation lawsuit brought about by Virginia Giuffre, one of Maxwell’s accusers, and at the time the names were kept secret under a court-ordered seal.
Many of the names come from testimony provided by Johanna Sjoberg, Epstein’s former PA and one of his victims
But last month a judge in New York ruled these could now come to light.
Judge Loretta Preskaz, who ordered the unsealing, noted that many of the individuals named in the lawsuit, such as Prince Andrew and former US president Bill Clinton, had already been publicly identified by the media or in Maxwell’s criminal trial.
She added that many others ‘did not raise an objection’ to the release of the documents.
But even though some of the names are already known, the documents help shed light on the exact nature of the relationship between Epstein’s associates and their accusers.
Here are six key takeaways we’ve learned since last night:
More misery for Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew’s relationship with Epstein and Maxwell has come under further scrutiny (Picture: Getty)
Arguably the most well-known associate of Epstein, the court filings include 40 documents of evidence from a woman who has made accusations against the prince.
Last year, Andrew paid millions to settle a lawsuit against Virginia Guiffere, who claimed the prince sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old.
Andrew claimed he had never met Ms Guiffere before, and Buckingham Palace claimed all the allegations against him were ‘categorically untrue.’
But in a newly-unsealed deposition, Johanna Sjoberg, Epstein’s former PA and one of his victims, said she and Ms Guiffere were groped by Andrew in 2001 during a bizarre incident involving a puppet.
Prince Andrew has denied all the allegations against him (Picture: Getty)
While in Manhattan in 2001, Ms Sjoberg said Maxwell called her to an upstairs closet, where there was a puppet of the Duke of York which was made for a BBC programme- believed to be the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.
‘It looked like him,’ she said. “And she brought it down and presented it to him; and that was a great joke, because apparently it was a production from a show on BBC.
‘And they decided to take a picture with it, in which Virginia and Andrew sat on a couch.
‘They put the puppet on Virginia’s lap, and I sat on Andrew’s lap, and they put the puppet’s hand on Virginia’s breast, and Andrew put his hand on my breast, and they took a photo.’
Ms Sjoberg previously spoke about the incident in a 2007 newspaper interview, although repeated her claims under oath during her desposition.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied all allegations of sexual impropriety made against him and accepted no liability in his settlement with Ms Guiffre.
Michael Jackson and David Copperfield named as friends of Epstein
Famous magician David Copperfield had dinner with Epstein and performed magic tricks at his home (Picture: Getty)
Elsewhere in her deposition, Ms Sjoberg claims to have met both Michael Jackson and magician David Copperfield, who met socially with Epstein at his house.
‘I met Michael Jackson … At Jeffrey’s house in Palm Beach,’ Sjoberg said during questioning under oath.
When asked if she ever massaged him, Sjoberg said ‘I did not.’
Copperfield meanwhile, was reported to have spoken with another of Epstein’s victims while having dinner with him at his house.
Michael Jackson was spotted at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida (Picture: Getty)
One of the documents said: ‘David Copperfield was at a dinner at Epstein’s and there was another girl present who looked young and Johanna [Sjoberg] asked what school she went to and Johanna did not recognize the school name as being a college and she said it was possible it was a high school aged girl.’
‘Johanna said Copperfield “questioned me if I was aware that girls were getting paid to find other girls.”‘
‘I asked her what school she went to, kind of prodding to see if she went to one of the area colleges, and I did not recognize the name of the school,’ Sjoberg said.
‘So I thought she could be younger than college age, but I had to assume for my own sanity that she was a daughter of one of his friends.’
Ms Sjoberg said Copperfield later performed magic tricks at the dinner and she observed him to be a friend of Epstein’s.
Bill Clinton ‘likes them young’
Former US president Bill Clinton invited Epstein and Maxwell to the White House 17 times while in office (Picture: William J. Clinton Presidential Library)
Another key name mentioned in Ms Sjoberg’s testimony is former US president Bill Clinton, a known associate of Epstein and Maxwell who welcomed the pair of them into the White House on 17 different occasions during his time in office.
During her deposition, Johanna Sjoberg was asked if she was aware that Clinton was a friend of Epstein.
Ms Sjoberg said: ‘I knew he had dealings with Bill Clinton.
‘I did not know they were friends until I read the 15 Vanity Fair article about them going to Africa together.’
When asked if Epstein had ever talked about Clinton, she replied: ‘He said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls.’
Other documents show Ghislaine Maxwell quizzed about her relationship with Mr Clinton and his then close aide Doug Band.
During her own deposition, Maxwell denied claims that Clinton had eaten a meal at Epstein’s island, but said he had eaten one while flying on his personal plane.
Epstein reportedly told his assistant that Clinton ‘like them young’ (Picture: William J. Clinton Presidential Library)
She said: ‘just so we are clear, the allegations that Clinton had a meal on Jeffrey’s island is 100 per cent false.’
Asked whether he had had a meal on Epstein’s plane, she said: ‘I’m sure he had a meal on Jeffrey’s plane’, but she said she did not know how many times he had flown on it.
She also said she could not remember where she stayed on a trip with Mr Clinton.
‘I recollect the trip but if you’re asking me where we stayed, you can see it’s a very fast paced trip,’ she said.
A spokesman for Clinton confirmed in 2019 that the former president had flown on Epstein’s private plane but knew nothing of the late billionaire’s ‘terrible crimes.’
Following the unsealing, a Clinton spokesperson repeated the denial and told CNN ‘it has now been nearly 20 years since President Clinton last had contact with Epstein.’ Clinton has not been accused of any crimes or wrongdoing related to Epstein.
Donald Trump not accused of wrongdoing
Donald Trump is mentioned as a friend of Epstein but was not accused of any crimes (Picture: Getty)
Donald Trump’s well-publicised relationship with Epstein has also come under much scrutiny, although the former president avoids any accusations of wrongdoing in the documents.
Johanna Sjoberg recalled a time when she was with Epstein on one of his planes and pilots informed them they needed to land in Atlantic City.
Epstein then suggested they contact Donald Trump.
‘Jeffrey said, Great, we’ll call up Trump and we’ll go to – I don’t recall the name of the casino, but – we’ll go to the casino,’ Sjoberg said.
Trump referred to Epstein as a ‘terrific guy’ who he had known for many years (Picture: BBC)
Mr Trump has not been accused of committing any crime in the released documents.
However, it is known he and Epstein once moved in the same social circles,and in 2002, Mr Trump told New York Magazine: ‘I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy.’
He added: ‘It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.’
But Trump later backtracked on his friendship with Epstein and said he only ‘knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him’, claiming the two of them had a ‘falling out’ and that Trump ‘threw him out’ of Mar-a-Lago.
Epstein offered money to victims to disprove Stephen Hawking ‘orgy’ allegations
Professor Stephen Hawking faced allegations after attending a conference on Epstein’s island in 2006 (Picture: Handout)
One of the more interesting unsealed documents shows an email from Epstein to Maxwell, in which he asks her to offer money to Virginia Giuffre’s friends if they could ‘help prove’ her allegations ‘were false’.
In the email, written in 2015, Epstein suggests that Ms Guiffere had claimed that Professor Stephen Hawking had participated in an ‘underage orgy’ while visiting the financier on his private island.
Other claims he asked her to disprove were allegations that Bill Clinton had dined with Epstein while visiting him on his island.
He wrote: ‘You can issue a reward to any of Virginia’s friends, acquaints, family that come forward and help prove her allegations are false.
‘The strongest is the Clinton dinner, and the new version in the Virgin Islands that Stephen Hawking participated in an underage orgy.’
Pictures show the physicist visiting Epstein’s island in 2006 during a conference reportedly funded by the disgraced financier.
This includes him attending a barbecue and taking a submarine tour around the island, The Telegraph reports.
Much more still to come
Several of the people named are appealing to have their identity protected (Picture: Getty)
Only 45 of the 900 documents have been unsealed so far, and it is unknown how long it will take for the remaining names and documents to be made public.
Two of the people whose names are sealed are appealing to keep their names hidden, including a person described as ‘Doe 110,’ an individual whose ‘name and association with Epstein has been widely publicized by the media.’ Their appeal remains pending.
Another person of interest, identified only as ‘Doe 107’ is also facing a legal battle to keep their identity hidden after claiming she ‘faces a risk of physical harm in her country of residence’ if identified.
The judge has asked Doe 107—who was not listed as part of the names to be unsealed—to provide additional information to support her case by Jan. 22.
Several more unnamed associates, referred to as ‘J.Doe’s’ in the court findings, are believed to be alleged victims whose allegations have not been made public, prompting the court to rule that their privacy outweighs the public interest in having their names unsealed.
Other people who will not be identified include someone who was mistakenly identified as an ‘alleged perpetrator’ in a photograph, and two more people who were described as ‘classic outsiders peripheral to the events at issue.’
A host of other famous people- including former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Naomi Campbell, Al Gore, Dershowitz, Les Wexner, Kevin Spacey and George Lucas- were also mentioned in Ms Sjober’s testimony, although only in the context of her denying meeting any of them.
She did however acknowledge that ‘there were other famous people, perhaps, who were around Jeffrey’s home that you didn’t meet.’
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Here’s what we’ve learned since last night.