Unsealed documents detail alleged Epstein victim’s recruitment at Mar-a-Lago – POLITICO

Mar-A-Lago

A teenage employee at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was allegedly recruited to give Jeffrey Epstein massages that often involved sexual activity. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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08/09/2019 10:25 PM EDT

A trove of court documents unsealed Friday detail allegations by an alleged victim of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein that while working as a teenage locker room attendant at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort nearly two decades ago she was recruited to give Epstein massages that often involved sexual activity.

The roughly 2,000 pages of records released by the Manhattan-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals also show the same woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, appears to have claimed she had sex with a series of prominent men — including former politicians — at Epstein’s direction while working as a staff masseuse for the investment adviser, who eventually came under investigation in 2006 for sex trafficking over his involvement with teenage girls.

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That probe wound up in a controversial plea deal where federal prosecutors in Florida agreed not to file charges against Epstein in exchange for him pleading guilty in 2008 to two state prostitution-related felonies. He served only about 13 months in county jail, much of it with permission to work from his office during the day.

The deal drew objections and a lawsuit from some of Epstein’s victims, who alleged they were illegally kept in the dark about the agreement. Earlier this year, a federal judge agreed the victims’ rights were violated. That ruling, and a fresh indictment of Epstein in federal court in New York City last month, set in motion the resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the chief federal prosecutor in south Florida and signed off on the Epstein deal.

In deposition excerpts made public Friday, Giuffre said she was working as a spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago in 2000 when she was approached by Epstein’s longtime friend Ghislaine Maxwell about giving massages to the wealthy investor, who owned a mansion in Palm Beach not far from the Trump resort.

“Where in the spa were you when you were approached by Ghislaine Maxwell?” Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger asked at a May 2016 deposition.

“Just outside the locker room, sitting where the other girl who works there usually sits,” Giuffre replied. “I was reading a book on massage therapy. … She noticed I was reading the massage book. And I started to have chitchat with her just about, you know, the body and the anatomy and how I was interested in it. And she told me that she knew somebody that was looking for a traveling masseuse. … If the guy likes you then, you know, it will work out for you. You’ll travel. You’ll make good money.”

During the same deposition, Giuffre said the paid massages often involved sex and led to a more permanent role traveling with Epstein, who had homes on a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in New Mexico and New York. She alleged she was also instructed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Epstein’s friends.

“Name the other politically-connected and financially powerful people that Ghislaine Maxwell told you to go have sex with,” Menninger said.

“They instructed me to have sex with George Mitchell, Jean Luc Brunel, Bill Richardson, another prince, that I don’t know his name,” Giuffre said.

Mitchell and Richardson issued statements Friday categorically denying Giuffre’s claims.

“The allegation contained in the released documents is false,” former Sen. Mitchell said. “I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre. In my contacts with Mr. Epstein, I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls. I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida. We have had no further contact.”

“These allegations and inferences are completely false,” former Gov. Richardson spokeswoman Maddy Mahony said. “To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre.”

Brunel owns a modeling business and is suing Epstein for damage to the firm as a result of reports it was used by Epstein to recruit underage girls for sex. Epstein is fighting the suit. Brunel has denied any impropriety.

The documents released Friday come from a federal lawsuit Giuffre filed against Maxwell in New York in 2015, alleging that she facilitated Epstein’s abuse of her and other young girls. Giuffre, like other alleged victims, gave up her right to sue Epstein in exchange for a financial settlement linked to the 2008 plea deal. However, the settlement did not preclude litigation against others.

Maxwell denied the allegations and insisted that she was unaware that any of the masseuses working for Epstein were underage. However, she settled the suit for an undisclosed sum after a district court judge ruled in March 2017 that the case should go to trial.

The records released under the 2nd Circuit ruling are a subset of those filed in connection with Giuffre’s suit against Maxwell. Only portions of the relevant depositions were made public Friday, complicating efforts to interpret some of the witnesses statements.

The appeals court ordered more records to be reviewed for release by a district court judge, but that process is expected to take some time.

The court battle has lingered over the past two years as several parties pressed for more of the court record to be unsealed.

Harvard Law Professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz moved to unseal certain documents after he was publicly accused by Giuffre of having sex with her at Epstein’s direction. Dershowitz vehemently denied the charge and said the full record of Giuffre’s statements show her to be a fabulist.

“The release today of previously sealed documents – which I have been trying to unseal for three years, — categorically proves that Virginia Roberts never had sex with me,” Dershowitz said in a statement. “They prove that as far back as June of 2001, Roberts never included me among the numerous people she claimed to have sex with. She invented the false accusation against me only in 2014, when her lawyers ‘pressured’ her to do so for financial reasons.”

Dershowitz noted that an earlier book proposal from Giuffre mentioned him but made no claim she had sex with him.

“I never met Virginia Roberts. I never had sex with an underage person. I never socialized or had sex with any woman connected to Jeffrey Epstein. Since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein, I have had sexual contact with only one woman, namely my wife,” Dershowitz added.

Epstein, who was arrested last month in New Jersey as he arrived on a private plane from France, was denied bail and remains in a federal jail in Manhattan awaiting a trial expected to take place next year.

The newly released court records show Epstein invoked his right against self-incrimination when asked various questions in the Giuffre suit, including about whether Maxwell first encountered Giuffre at Mar-a-Lago. “Fifth,” Epstein said, apparently referring to the Fifth Amendment.

The unsealed files don’t appear to include any allegation that Trump had sex with Giuffre or other women working for Epstein.

Giuffre also denied aspects of a reporter’s claim that she said: “Donald Trump was also a good friend of Jeffrey’s. He didn’t partake in any sex with any of us but he flirted with me. He’d laugh and tell Jeffrey, ‘you’ve got the life.’”

“’Donald Trump was also a good friend of Jeffrey’s.’ That part is true. ‘He didn’t partake in any’ of — any sex with any of us but he flirted with me.’ It’s true that he didn’t partake in any sex with us, but it’s not true that he flirted with me. Donald Trump never flirted with me,” Giuffre clarified later.

Epstein was once reportedly a regular at the resort, although he was never a member. Trump later banned Epstein from the property, allegedly due to a sexual assault on a girl there, according to previously disclosed court records.

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,” Trump told reporters at the White House after Epstein’s arrest last month. “I had a falling out a long time ago, I’d say maybe 15 years. … I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”

In a comment to New York Magazine for a 2002 profile of Epstein, Trump called the financial whiz “a terrific guy” and acknowledged that he likes women “on the younger side.”

The documents released Friday include Giuffre’s employment records from Mar-a-Lago, showing she was paid $1866.50 by the resort in 2000. The court files also include a letter of recommendation Trump wrote for Giuffre’s father, who worked in maintenance at the resort and helped her get a job there.

Flight logs for Epstein’s private planes show Trump as a passenger on at least one flight, in January 1997 from Palm Beach to Newark.

The logs and depositions of Epstein’s pilots also detail former President Bill Clinton’s use of Epstein’s planes to travel around the world for the Clinton Foundation and to make paid speeches.

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said last month.

“He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”

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