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Here’s what we learned – and didn’t learn – from the Jeffrey Epstein unsealed documents


By Samantha Delouya and Lauren del Valle, CNN

New York (CNN) — Over the past several days, hundreds of documents from a Jeffrey Epstein-connected lawsuit were unsealed and released for the first time. The last of those documents was unsealed Tuesday.

The full scope of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged criminal activity has remained shrouded in mystery after the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender died in jail before he could face trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.

CNN has reviewed the newly unsealed documents, which were released piecemeal beginning last Wednesday and totaled over 4,500 pages. The files included the names and information of many dozens of people that were previously redacted, including some of Epstein’s accusers, prominent businesspeople, politicians and more.

An individual’s inclusion in the documents does not indicate that person was accused of any wrongdoing – and much of the information found in the documents has been reported on in various media outlets in the years since they were originally sealed.

However, the newly unsealed documents were also notable for the information they did not reveal.

There wasn’t a full list of unredacted names

During his life, Epstein, a well-connected financier, ran in elite circles, rubbing elbows with world leaders and prominent businesspeople, even after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting an underage prostitute and registered as a sex offender.

The question of who from Epstein’s well-heeled inner circle knew about – or participated in – his alleged illegal activities has been the source of anger and interest among victims’ advocates, law enforcement officials and members of the public in the years after the scope of Epstein’s crimes have become more well-known.

The documents are part of a 2015 civil defamation suit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell , alleging Epstein sexually abused her while she was a minor with the help of Maxwell.

Giuffre and Maxwell settled the suit in 2017, and most of the court filings were unsealed in 2019, one day before Epstein died by suicide in jail. Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking in 2021 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

However, hundreds of documents remained unavailable to the public until the judge overseeing the case ordered many of them to be unsealed and unredacted in a December 18 order.

And while many documents were unsealed in full, others still contained pages of redactions, meaning there are still plenty of unknowns regarding the case.

Epstein’s high-powered connections

Many of the people revealed in the documents already had known links to Epstein, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Britain’s Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, French modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel and Leslie Wexner, the founder of Victoria’s Secret – all of whom have denied wrongdoing in connection to Epstein.

Trump and Clinton are not directly accused of wrongdoing in the documents, and in an unsealed 2016 deposition, Giuffre denied knowledge of them participating in any sexual abuse crimes.

On Trump, Giuffre said she “never saw or witnessed Donald Trump participate in those acts, but was he in the house of Jeffrey Epstein? I’ve heard he has been, but I haven’t seen him myself, so I don’t know.”

When asked earlier this week about Trump’s name appearing in the newly unsealed documents, a Trump spokesperson reacted by attacking the media.  Trump in the past has sought to distance himself from Epstein.

Clinton’s name was mentioned many times in the unsealed court documents and depositions of several people who worked for Epstein, including accusations that Clinton “likes them young” and that the former president allegedly pressured Vanity Fair not to write about the disgraced financier. Former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who oversaw the magazine at the time, told CNN last week that the alleged pressure from Clinton “”categorically did not happen.”

Giuffre recounted meeting Clinton more than once, including at a dinner on Epstein’s island in 2002, but said she was not involved with him sexually.

“I didn’t have to do anything with Bill Clinton, he was never sexually involved with me. I’ve never witnessed him sexually involved with anybody else,” she said.

However, Giuffre said that she believed Clinton was a witness to the sexual abuse of minors “because he knew what my purpose there was for Jeffrey and he visited Jeffrey’s island.”

In a 2016 Jeffrey Epstein deposition transcript made public Tuesday, Epstein did not answer any substantive questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right hundreds of times in the more than five hours he sat for questioning.

Epstein did not answer dozens of questions about his relationship with Bill Clinton and whether the former president had been on to the financier’s private island.

“When Bill Clinton came to your island, he was accompanied by two young women who were  approximately 18 years old, true?” attorney Paul Cassell asked Epstein.

“Fifth,” Epstein answered.

A spokesman for Clinton confirmed in 2019 that the former president had flown on Epstein’s private plane but said Clinton knew nothing of the financier’s “terrible crimes” and had never visited the Little St. James Island or Epstein’s residences in New Mexico or Florida.

A Clinton spokesman Tuesday reiterated that 2019 denial and told CNN that he was never on Epstein’s island. The spokesman also noted that several people testified that Clinton did not visit the island. Last week, the spokesman noted it has now “been nearly 20 years since President Clinton last had contact with Epstein.”

Epstein’s tactics

The documents also included some unsettling allegations.

In an unsealed excerpt from a deposition of Epstein associate Nadia Marcinkova, an attorney asked Marcinkova if she was “with Jeffrey Epstein on his birthday when one of his friends sent him 12 – sorry, three 12-year-olds for the purposes of Jeffrey Epstein sexually abusing them?”

He then asked if “these three 12-year-olds were from France. Were they sent to him on his birthday by Jean Luc Brunel or by somebody else?”

Brunel, a French modeling scout, died in a jail cell in 2022 while under investigation by French authorities for his ties to Epstein.

Marcinkova invoked the Fifth Amendment and did not answer the question. Giuffre also recounted the story of 12-year-olds being sent to Epstein in her own court depositions.

The documents also included police reports from local Palm Beach law enforcement that investigated Epstein for years. The allegations have been widely reported but the newly unsealed documents detail a detective’s interviews with dozens of girls that illustrate a pattern of Epstein’s methods of procuring vulnerable girls for abuse.

In an unsealed deposition Palm Beach Detective Joseph Recarey laid out a process he said Epstein and Maxwell used to find and recruit girls to “perform massages and work at Epstein’s home.” Recarey testified that these massages would turn sexual.

Another accuser, whose name remains redacted in the unsealed documents, said she was between the age of 15 and 17 when she was paid to give Epstein massages, which she thought wouldn’t involve sexual activity.

“I just was there, and all of a sudden, something horrible happened to me,” she said of her experience with Epstein, adding, “it wasn’t supposed to be sexual, but it was.”

Alessi, Epstein’s former employee, testified that one victim under the age of 18 would occasionally bring her mother along to Epstein’s home.

In terms of payment, “everybody got $100 an hour,” Alessi said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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