An estate in litigation, an island mired in sex orgies, an heiress gone into hiding, and a prince drenched in sweat – the Jeffrey Epstein saga has unlocked peculiar characters and locations.
Their number, as well as the number of questions around the case, has grown since the disgraced financier was found hanging in a Manhattan jail on 10 August 2019.
Here is the roundup of the biggest developments in Jeffrey Epstein’s story over the past 365 days.
Authorities ruled that the 66-year-old died by suicide, although questions popped up immediately over how Epstein was left unsupervised given that he had attempted to kill himself two weeks prior.
A mysterious death
Hugh Hurwitz, acting chief of the Bureau of Prisons, was removed a week after Epstein’s death. The two jail staff members who were meant to check on the financier’s jail unit every half-hour fell asleep and shopped online that night, according to investigators. They were charged with a cover-up in November.
Conspiracy theories also began to swirl as to who really took Epstein’s life. A pathologist hired by his family disputed the finding of the New York City medical examiner and suggested that Epstein’s neck was broken in a way that points to strangulation rather than suicidal hanging.
A company of predators
Meanwhile, #ClintonBodyCount hashtags got outtweeted as weeks went by, and public attention shifted to his powerful associates.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has claimed that she and other women – many of them minors at the time – were groomed by Epstein and his former girlfriend, British media heiress Ghislaine Maxwell.
Giuffre alleged that the girls were lent out for sex to a bunch of powerful men including Britain’s Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Senator George Mitchell, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel. All of them denied wrongdoing.
Prince Andrew – once photographed with his arm around Giuffre’s waist at Maxwell’s home – attempted to clear his name in a November interview. His line of defence, which revealed a peculiar health condition and a selective memory, appeared so shaky that the ensuing backlash forced the Duke of York to step back from royal duties.
The FBI and lawyers representing Epstein’s alleged victims kept insisting that the Prince sit down for an interview. However, the royal has been unresponsive despite his initial pledge to cooperate.
An embattled estate
More women came forward alleging sexual abuse on the part of Epstein, dating back from 1985 to 2007. The total number of alleged victims and their attorneys who have filed claims with his $630-million estate surpassed 100 this June.
The high-profile case spawned two docu-series. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich was released by Netflix in May, and Lifetime’s Surviving Jeffrey Epstein premiered on Sunday, 9 August.
More details emerged in the story after the July arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was hiding out in New Hampshire. The socialite pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges and was denied bail; her trial is scheduled for next July.
Documents stemming from her lost 2015 civil dispute with Giuffre provide plenty of material for investigators. In particular, Giuffre mentioned Bill Clinton among the people who allegedly were on Epstein’s private island where victims said sex orgies with teenage girls took place.
The former US president denied ever setting foot on the island, but admitted to travelling on Epstein’s private jet. The plane, dubbed “The Lolita Express”, frequently flew apparently underage girls, and Clinton himself was photographed alongside Chauntae Davis, the woman who claims Epstein raped her repeatedly.
Clinton insists he never knew about Epstein’s crimes, and he hasn’t been implicated in any crimes himself.
Lawyers for the victims are currently fighting to open up more documents that could shed light on Epstein’s crimes.
Earlier this month, a US appeals judge stopped the release of Maxwell’s 2016 deposition about her sex life just hours before it was due to be unsealed. The potentially incriminating documents won’t be published until at least 22 September when her appeal will be heard on an expedited basis.