Virgin Islands officials claim Jeffrey Epstein was abusing women and girls on his private Caribbean island less than two years before his death.
The financier/convicted sex offender died from an apparent suicide last year, as he awaited trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. That case was based on allegations of sexual abuse that occurred prior to 2005; but according to the newly filed suit, Epstein was still running a sex trafficking ring as recently as 2018; this not only expands the scope of this alleged misconduct by more than a decade, it also challenges claims by Epstein's attorneys, who insist he had not committed any crimes after 2008.
The lawsuit was filed by Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise N. George.
"Epstein clearly used the Virgin Islands and his residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Little Saint James as a way to be able to conceal and to be able to expand his activity here," George The New York Times. "... We will not remain complacent, and we will enforce our laws whatever way we can,” Ms. George said. “It doesn’t matter the social status of the person. It’s that the laws apply equally."
The lawsuit, filed against Epstein's estate, claims he had facilitated the sexual abuse and exploitation of numerous women and girls on his private island. Virgin Islands officials say the sex ring—which included girls as young as 11—was so vast he had to use a computer database to track all of the victims, whom he allegedly transported to Little St. James via helicopter or boat.
According to the suit, one of the victims tried to escape Epstein by swimming off the island after she was forced to perform sex acts with Epstein's co-conspirators. She was reportedly later found, stripped of her passport, and held hostage on Epstein's island.
The lawsuit is demanding the forfeiture of Epstein's islands as well as the dissolution of shell companies he formed on the territory. The assets are estimated to be worth about $500 million; according to the Times, that money could be allocated to the victims who endured abuse on the islands.
"We don’t have a long history of figuring out what to do in cases of human trafficking," Bridgette Carr, the director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, told the Times. "I think this litigation and the courts are just trying to come up with the best, imperfect solution."