How Jeffrey Epstein Used His Wealth To Buy Proximity to Girls

How Jeffrey Epstein Used His Wealth To Buy Proximity to Girls
Image:Associated Press

One of the most infuriating aspects of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual exploitation of young girls is the fact that he got away with it for so long, while many, many people turned a blind eye. This happened, in large part, because of his wealth—wealth that Epstein used to buy his way into spaces where he would be in close proximity to young girls.

The Daily Beast reports that Epstein had his own rental lodge—one close to a camp for “junior girls”—at Interlochen Center for the Arts, the prestigious educational institution that draws young people from around the world to study, both at its boarding high school and its summer camp. Epstein gained access to Interlochen, whose camp he had attended in 1967, by being a generous donor and holding events for the the prestigious arts academy at his New York City townhouse. Per the Daily Beast:

But during the 1990s, Epstein apparently had another getaway at a Michigan cabin. There, the 66-year-old financier was a donor to the revered Interlochen Center for the Arts, a fine arts boarding school and camp, and had bankrolled the “Jeffrey Epstein Scholarship Lodge” on its campus.
Indeed, The Daily Beast has discovered that Epstein listed this rental lodge in his infamous Little Black Book—a veritable rolodex of famous faces, from President Donald Trump and his lawyer Alan Dershowitz, to Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Bob, and even Courtney Love.

Also in his Little Black Book? The names of two Interlochen students.

Katharine Laidlaw, Interlochen’s vice president of strategic communications and engagement, told the Daily Beast that school records show that Epstein stayed at the rental lodge for a week in August 2000. “Per the funding agreement, he was permitted to use the lodge for up to two weeks per year. Interlochen has no record of any other use by him beyond that one week in August 2000,” Laidlaw wrote to the Daily Beast.

According to at least one account, he used his time at Interlochen to recruit young girls. In 2011, the Daily Mail published an interview with Fary Bjorlin, who said her daugther Nadia, now an actress, was 13 and at Interlochen (right around the time that the lodge in Epstein’s name was being constructed) when she was targeted by Epstein.

This is how Fary described her young daughter: “My daughter was a singer. She was a baby. She was a skinny little girl, not mature for her age. She was 13, but everyone thought she was nine or ten.”

Fary told the Daily Mail that her husband and Nadia’s father had recently died, which she believed made her daughter a target. She described how Epstein attempted to groom her daughter. “Epstein was a big donor and he heard about Nadia and that her father had died, so she was vulnerable, and he contacted her. He said, ‘Here’s my number,’” she told the Daily Mail. “He kept saying: ‘Come—will you come?’ He said he wanted to help mentor her. I wouldn’t let her meet him. What sort of a man approaches a young girl and asks to meet her?”

Through Ghislaine Maxwell, whom Fary trusted, she ended up meeting with Epstein, who told her he wanted to help with Nadia’s singing career. “He said, ‘I’d like to be like a godfather.’ It felt creepy,” Fary recalled. She had a “bad vibe” about Epstein, and said she kept her daughter away from him.

“He said, ‘I’d like to be like a godfather.’ It felt creepy.”

Laidlaw told the Daily Beast that the school had “discontinued contact” with Epstein in 2007, and that the school has no complaints of his behavior on record, adding that Interlochen’s “policies would not have permitted Mr. Epstein any unsupervised access to students.”

Whether or not the school knew or suspected of Epstein’s predatory behavior, this story underscores the ease with which Epstein could transform his wealth into access. And, in a classic grooming technique, he allegedly targeted young girls whom he felt were particularly vulnerable, like Jennifer Araoz, another one of Epstein’s alleged victims, who said she was 14 years old and a student at a performing arts high school who had dreams of becoming a Broadway actor when she was groomed by an unnamed woman who was an associate of Epstein’s. (Araoz was 15 when Epstein allegedly raped her.) Araoz, whose father had died just a few years earlier and who described herself at the time as “kind of a lost kid,” recalled that Epstein told her that she was “very lucky to have met somebody like him” and “that he could really help me.”

But what happened when those same young girls spoke up and accused him of sexually exploiting them? As CNN reported on Friday, as a case was built against him in Florida in the mid-2000s after the parent of a 14-year-old girl filed a police report, Epstein hired investigators who harassed and intimidated not only the parents of his alleged victims, but the girls themselves.

Per CNN:

During that probe, at least three private investigators who police believed were working on Epstein’s behalf tracked down accusers and possible witnesses to the alleged attacks, according to the police reports. They sat in black SUVs outside the homes of accusers, questioned their current and former boyfriends, and chased one parent’s car off the road, according to police reports and a lawyer for three accusers. Epstein’s current attorney Reid Weingarten denied in a court filing Thursday any knowledge of the alleged car chase and said if it happened, it was not authorized by Epstein.

“He had this team of maybe six to eight lawyers all pressuring not only the state’s attorney but the feds to drop all of this, saying that they were going to make these girls’ lives miserable,” said Spencer Kuvin, an attorney for some of Epstein’s alleged victims, referring to information provided by Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s attorney, to the state prosecutor that, as CNN notes, was “apparently intended to discredit the accusers,” including MySpace posts that appeared to show some of the girls using drugs and alcohol.

And here’s how the father of one of Epstein’s alleged victims described the harassment he and his daughter faced:

The father of one accuser later told authorities that a private investigator was “photographing his family and chasing visitors who come to the house,” according to a police report. The police identified this investigator as the second one involved in the case and said the investigator was likely hired by a new attorney Epstein brought into the case. Black was no longer on the case at the time.
One week later, according to the police report, that accuser was approached by the person who claimed to be in touch with Epstein and given the warning about cooperating for compensation or facing consequences.

Epstein’s investigators, at one point, allegedly ran the mother of one of his victims off the road:

By June 2006, the same month the state announced an indictment of Epstein on soliciting prostitution, one parent called the police multiple times alleging he was followed by someone; police later identified the vehicle as belonging to a third private investigator. It isn’t clear which lawyer hired that investigator.
The father “stated that as he drove to and from work and running errands throughout the county, the same vehicle was behind him running other vehicles off the road in an attempt to not lose sight of (the father’s) car,” according to the police report.
The same car, which was linked to a private investigator, according to the report, later ran the mother of the same accuser off the road.

As Kuvin told CNN, “It was incredibly intimidating. You have to remember these girls were 14 and 15 (years old) when this was happening.”

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