Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George said the U.S. territory wants to reclaim Epstein’s private islands and create a fund for victims.
A new lawsuit claims the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein used his Virgin Islands estate as a sex trafficking hub.
Epstein, writes The New York Times, regularly flew in girls as young as 11 years old. A top law enforcement official said Epstein was bringing children to his estate as recently as 2018.
According to the Times, the suit was filed by Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George. The complaint effectively broadens the scope of Epstein’s crimes to thirteen years.
Between 2001 and 2018, the lawsuit claims that Epstein “facilitated… the sexual molestation and exploitation of numerous girls.” The abuse allegedly occurred on two of Epstein’s private islands, Little Saint James and Great Saint James.
“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 said.
George’s suit intends to seize Epstein’s properties on both islands. If successful, the Caribbean territory could “disburse Epstein’s remaining $500 million in assets to girls and women he abused in the region.” However, the Times notes that there may be difficulty in allocating the remnants of Epstein’s wealth.
Along with potentially setting up a fund for Epstein victims, George hopes the lawsuit will push back against the Virgin Islands’ reputation as a safe haven for wealthy wrongdoers.
“We will not remain complacent, and we will enforce our laws whatever way we can,” George said. “It doesn’t matter the social status of a person. It’s that the laws apply equally.”
However, court documents suggest that Epstein was long able to operate with impunity. The Times reports that, as recently as July 2018, Epstein turned away an official from the Virgin Islands’ Department of Justice, claiming the dock at Little Saint James was his “front door.”
The investigator, says the Times, had stopped by the Epstein residence to do a routine check-up, given the late billionaire’s listing on the sex offender registry.
All the while, Epstein—whose attorneys say he’d stopped offending after 2008—headed an elaborate trafficking operation. He allegedly brought in young women from the United States, as well as aspiring actresses from South America. Working through associates, Epstein would rotate women in and out of his property, obtaining fake visas for girls who might have trouble getting through customs.
One 15-year old girl, recalls the lawsuit, tried to escape Epstein’s island after being forced to perform sex acts on multiple individuals. She was located offshore, brought back to Little Saint James and held prisoner.
Epstein, says the Times, confiscated her passport to prevent her from attempting another escape.
George claims that, even with Epstein dead, his estate continues to abuse it funds.
“The estate continues to engage in a course of conduct aimed at concealing the criminal activities of the Epstein enterprise,” George said.