Virginia Giuffre’s lawyer on prosecuting powerful abusers: ‘There are many people involved in this beyond Maxwell and Epstein’

Virginia Giuffre’s attorney tells Bevan Hurley the rich and powerful implicated in the Epstein-Maxwell sex-trafficking ring deserve to be brought to justice

Wednesday 06 July 2022 12:05 EDT
<p>Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre for a hearing in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein in New York, 2019.</p>

Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre for a hearing in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein in New York, 2019.

When powerhouse attorney David Boies received the news that Ghislaine Maxwell had been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for child sex-trafficking last week, he allowed himself a wry smile.

“It was very satisfying,” Mr Boies told The Independent in his first interview since the sentencing.

“This was an important step.”

But he also felt a lingering sense of unfinished business about the many wealthy and powerful figures who have not had to answer for their roles in Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell’s decades-long “pyramid scheme of abuse”.

Mr Boies has for decades has been one of America’s best-known litigants, famously but unsuccessfully representing the Democratic Party candidate Al Gore in a case against George W Bush to settle the contested 2000 presidential election.

The 81-year-old represented Annie Farmer and Virginia Giuffre in civil lawsuits against Epstein and Maxwell.

Annie Farmer speaks to media outside the Manhattan Federal Court following Maxwell’s sentencing

In 2015, he handed over their entire civil file to the Justice Department in the hopes they would investigate and prosecute Epstein, Maxwell and some of the dozens of other rich and powerful associates named identified by Ms Giuffre.

But so far, only three people have been held criminally liable.

They are: Epstein, who died by suicide in prison in 2019 aged 66 while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking; his close friend Jean-Luc Brunel, 76, who in February hanged himself in a Paris jail where he had been held for a year on suspicion of the rape of minors and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation; and Maxwell, convicted in New York on five sex-trafficking counts in late December and jailed for 20 years at her sentencing on 28 June.

Maxwell gives Epstein a massage on board a private jet in a photograph released during her trial. Jean-Luc Brunel, right, died in prison after being accused of child sex-trafficking

“There are many people who were involved in this beyond Maxwell and Epstein and Brunel,” Mr Boies told The Independent.

“Sex-trafficking could not have gone on remotely at the scale at which it went on, or for the duration that it went on, without the collaboration and cooperation of a lot of additional people.

“These people too should be brought to justice. But as time goes on, and the prosecutors don’t do anything, I think the chances that actually happens diminishes.”

Many of the famous names who flew on Epstein’s so-called Lolita Express private jet have come out during civil litigation and at Maxwell’s trial.

They include Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew. The two former US presidents have adamantly denied any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes, while Prince Andrew settled a civil sexual assault case with Ms Giuffre for a reported $14m in February.

But there are many names who have remained out of the public eye, their identities hidden in sealed files at the Justice Department.

“A lot of the materials from our 2015-2016 civil actions, which the government got, are still sealed to the public,” Mr Boies said. “These kinds of records should not be sealed.”

Donald Trump with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein

They generally fall into two categories, Mr Boies says.

There are Epstein and Maxwell’s lieutenants who were involved in recruiting, grooming and supervising the victims that were trafficked.

And then there are the people who the victims were trafficked to, which include “a lot of rich and powerful people around the world”, Mr Boies added.

“They’re all heavily protected by cadres of lawyers and PR consultants and political consultants. And you’ve got to have a prosecutor who is really committed to the cause of sex trafficking that is prepared to take that group on.”

Mr Boies said many of the victims were “easy to ignore” as Epstein and Maxwell deliberately sought out vulnerable girls, often from single-parent households and difficult financial circumstances. Some had already suffered sexual abuse.

“More names are coming out all the time. The question is whether that results in people being brought to justice. I’m a little pessimistic at this point.”

During Tuesday’s sentencing, Judge Alison Nathan named former Epstein associate Sarah Kellen as “a knowing participant in the criminal conspiracy”.

Ms Kellen was identified by victims at Maxwell’s trial as having booked them for massages with Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion.

Lawyers David Boies and Sigrid McCawley arrive at Manhattan Federal Court ahead of Ghislaine Maxwell’s arraignment in April 2021

“The defendant (Maxwell) was Epstein’s No. 2 and the lady of the house,” Judge Nathan said during the sentencing.

“At some point, Kellen took over some of the defendant’s duties. But even after that time, the defendant retained her leadership position, as evidenced by Carolyn’s testimony.”

(Carolyn was one of the four victims who testified at Maxwell’s trial and was only identified by her first name.)

Ms Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked to have sex with Harvard University emeritus law professor Alan Dershowitz. The allegation has not been proven, and Prof Dershowitz adamantly denies it or any knowledge of other offending.

In 2019, Ms Giuffre sued Prof Dershowitz for defamation and emotional distress, and he since counter-sued her. The case is ongoing.

Prof Dershowitz told The Independent in an interview he had visited Epstein’s home in Palm Beach and his private island Little Saint James and never seen young or naked women.

“It was a deep dark secret. Everything he did he did in a part of the house which was off limits to anybody,” he said.

“Nobody knew any of this, nobody would have associated with Epstein if we had known any of this.”

Prof Dershowitz said he saw pictures on the walls of the Palm Beach mansion of the billionaire with famous people including Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro.

“He had me on the wall, I was one of the famous people. And believe me I was fully dressed.”

He said he believed Maxwell’s sentence and conviction was “unjust”.

Mr Boies claimed it was stretching credulity for anyone in Epstein’s orbit to maintain they couldn’t have known what was going on.

“Everybody who was associated with the victims has heard reams of testimony about how obvious it was what Epstein was doing.

“Victim after victim and law enforcement officers, have testified how there were all these topless girls at the swimming pool, and naked pictures of girls around the house. It was not something that people could miss.”

Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein

Mr Boies, chairman and managing partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, typically charges up to $2,000 an hour for his services. But he and fellow managing partner Sigrid McCawley represented Ms Giuffre free of charge throughout their pursuit of Maxwell and Epstein.

In court on Tuesday, Ms McCawley read a victim impact statement from Ms Giuffre in which she described Maxwell as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

“You could have put an end to the rapes, the molestations, the sickening manipulations that you arranged, witnessed and even took part in. You could’ve called the authorities and reported that you were a part of something awful.”

Speculation that Maxwell could flip on her former associates in order to receive a reduced sentence has never eventuated.

Her brother Ian Maxwell told The Sunday Times in January that she had no plans to pursue a plea deal or offer up information about who else was involved.

Maxwell has maintained her innocence and plans to appeal the verdict and sentence.

The Independent contacted the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to ask if it plans to prosecute anyone else in relation to the conspiracy. And if not, whether it would unseal any records related to the case.

Public affairs chief Nicholas Biase declined to comment.

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