Previously sealed court documents naming more than 150 people tied to a settled lawsuit involving the late financier and accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will be released as soon as Wednesday, a spokesman for the federal court in New York said.
The vast majority of those whose names appear in the documents aren’t accused of wrongdoing. Some names in the documents may already be public in the case, and are expected to include known associates of Epstein and alleged sexual abuse victims.
The documents to be unsealed are part of a defamation lawsuit first filed in 2015 against Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell by Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska last month ordered the materials to be released after Jan. 1, although the names of minor victims who have not testified in the case or were not previously known to the public will remain sealed.
Epstein was facing multiple sex trafficking charges when he hanged himself in a federal jail in New York in August 2019.
Who Is Jeffrey Epstein?
A millionaire known for associating with celebrities, politicians, billionaires and academic stars, Epstein was initially arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2005 after he was accused of paying a 14-year-old girl for sex.
Dozens of other underage girls described similar sexual abuse, but prosecutors ultimately allowed the financier to plead guilty in 2008 to a charge involving a single victim. He served 13 months in a jail work-release program.
Some famous acquaintances abandoned Epstein after his conviction, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, but many did not. Epstein continued to mingle with the rich and famous for another decade, often through philanthropic work.
Reporting by the Miami Herald renewed interest in the scandal, and federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein in 2019 with sex trafficking. He killed himself in jail while awaiting trial.
The U.S. attorney in Manhattan then prosecuted Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, for helping recruit his underage victims. She was convicted in 2021 and is serving a 20-year prison term. Now 62, Maxwell is in a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, and has filed an appeal of the verdict, claiming prosecutors used her as a scapegoat.
What Are These New Documents?
The documents being unsealed are part of a lawsuit filed against Maxwell in 2015 by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. She is one of the dozens of women who sued Epstein saying he had abused them at his homes in Florida, New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New Mexico.
Giuffre said the summer she turned 17, she was lured away from a job as a spa attendant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club to become a “masseuse” for Epstein — a job that involved performing sexual acts.
Giuffre also claimed she was pressured into having sex with men in Epstein’s social orbit, most famously with Britain’s Prince Andrew. All of those men said her accounts were fabricated. She settled a lawsuit against Prince Andrew in 2022. That same year, Giuffre withdrew an accusation she had made against Epstein’s former attorney, the law professor Alan Dershowitz, saying she “may have made a mistake” in identifying him as an abuser.
Giuffre’s lawsuit against Maxwell was settled in 2017, but the Miami Herald went to court to access court papers initially filed under seal, including transcripts of interviews the lawyers did with potential witnesses.
About 2,000 pages were unsealed by a court in 2019. Additional documents were released in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
This next batch of records had remained sealed because of concerns about the privacy rights of Epstein’s victims and other people whose names had come up during the legal battle but weren’t complicit in his crimes.