First look at Jeffrey Epstein ‘John Doe’ files: Clinton, Copperfield, Trump and more

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Records released Wednesday provide a deeper look into the sprawling sex trafficking activities of financier Jeffrey Epstein and his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell — and those who say they saw nothing even as they enjoyed the couple’s company and largess. The records were unsealed in response to years-long litigation by the Miami Herald and its parent, McClatchy.

Though none of the records directly implicate anyone beyond Epstein and Maxwell in illegal or improper activities, witnesses — mostly young women — testified that Epstein bragged about his sexual prowess with virgins and boasted of his long list of famous acquaintances, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Prince Andrew and the late Michael Jackson.

The records were immediately seized upon by partisans on either side of the political and cultural divide, who posted social media attacks on Trump or Clinton even though their connections with Epstein have long been known.

New revelations

Among new revelations in documents unsealed Wednesday:

A witness, Johanna Sjoberg, testified in a deposition that she met David Copperfield at one of Epstein’s residences and that the magician asked her if she knew that “girls were getting paid to find other girls.” Sjoberg, who was in college, recalled seeing another younger girl at dinner with Copperfield, and recalled thinking she appeared to be of high school age, but she wasn’t certain. The Miami Herald was unable to reach Copperfield for comment Wednesday night.

Sjoberg, who worked for Epstein for five years, said she once overheard Epstein talking on the phone about famed hairdresser Frederic Fekkai. “I heard him call someone and say Fekkai is in Hawaii. Can we find some girls for him?” Sjoberg testified during a deposition. Fekkai couldn’t be reached late Wednesday for comment, but he has denied knowing of Epstein’s conduct in the past.

Sjoberg said she never met Bill Clinton, but that Epstein told her they were friends. “He said one time that Clinton likes them young, referring to girls,” Sjoberg told lawyers during the deposition.

And Sjoberg recalled a 2001 visit to one of Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City.

After their plane was forced to land in Atlantic City instead of New York, Sjoberg recalled that Epstein said, “Great, we’ll call up Trump.”

The two men socialized together in Palm Beach.

It isn’t clear whether she ever actually met Trump and she said that she never gave him a massage. Epstein was known for requiring three massages a day from young women and girls recruited for him by staff at any of his several houses.

A spokesman for Trump’s presidential campaign didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Other names in Epstein’s world included Michael Jackson, whom Sjoberg said she met at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, and model scout Jean Luc Brunel, once a Miami Beach bon vivant. A longtime associate of Epstein, Brunel was found dead of hanging in 2022 in a French jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The Miami Herald’s original “Perversion of Justice” series:

The documents released Wednesday stem from a 2015 defamation lawsuit Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre brought against Maxwell. The suit was filed after Maxwell called Giuffre a liar for accusing Epstein and Maxwell of serial sexual abuse The case was settled in 2017, with Maxwell reportedly paying millions to Giuffre.

Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused underage girls in this waterfront estate in Palm Beach, victims say.
Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused underage girls in this waterfront estate in Palm Beach, victims say.

The Miami Herald first sued to have the records released in 2018 and the court has released several tranches of documents since then that have painted a detailed portrait of Epstein’s abuse of hundreds of girls and Maxwell’s role in facilitating that abuse. Many of the names in the records were redacted, and the Herald pushed to have those redactions lifted.

More names to be revealed

Wednesday’s release is the initial batch of court records that will be unsealed in the days ahead. The names of about 150 “J. Does” are to be unsealed, although some were already widely known and reported. The first batch on Wednesday included Clinton, Trump, Brunel, Copperfield, Fekkai and Thomas Pritzker, executive director of the Hyatt Hotel Corp. Giuffre had previously testified in the case that she was directed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Pritzker, who has denied her allegation.

The records included several full depositions that had not previously been public, subpoenas, witness lists and court motions. The latest release caps years of legal wrangling involving lawyers for Giuffre, Maxwell and several of the individuals previously identified as “J. Does.”

The impetus for the unsealing was the Miami Herald’s 2018 Perversion of Justice series, which detailed how Epstein’s high-powered legal team negotiated a remarkably lenient 2008 plea agreement for the financier after he was accused of sexually abusing dozens of high school girls in Palm Beach. Under the terms of the deal, which was kept secret from the victims, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state solicitation charges. He would ultimately serve a 13-month sentence in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Jail, allowed to leave for 12 hours a day to work out of a nearby office.

Photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell presented by U.S prosecutors during Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial.
Photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell presented by U.S prosecutors during Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial.

Following the Herald’s reporting, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York brought sex trafficking charges against Epstein in July 2019, leading to his arrest. The following month, he was found dead in his New York prison cell in what has been ruled a suicide.

In July 2020, Maxwell was arrested and charged with facilitating Epstein’s abuse and, in one case, participating in the abuse herself. She was convicted in December 2021 on five of six charges related to sex trafficking and sentenced to 20 years in prison in June 2022. Maxwell, 62, currently lives in a federal prison in Tallahassee. Her appeal of the verdict and sentence is pending. Maxwell is the only associate of Epstein who has been prosecuted for her role in facilitating his abuse.

Epstein’s death came one day after earlier redacted documents from the Giuffre-Maxwell lawsuit were released. Giuffre alleged in those documents she was coerced into having sex with some of the world’s most powerful and wealthy men, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Pritzker — all of whom denied the claims.

Subsequent releases have included the two depositions Maxwell gave in the case — in which she denied knowledge of Epstein’s abuse and her role in recruiting and grooming girls for his abuse. Maxwell vehemently denied ever giving anyone a massage, which contradicted the sworn testimony given at trial by one of her victims, Annie Farmer.

Those depositions formed the basis for perjury charges initially brought against Maxwell at the time of her arrest, which were put on hold until after her sex trafficking trial. Maxwell had fought to keep the court depositions sealed, arguing that it would prejudice her trial.

Jeffrey Epstein’s home on the island of Little St. James in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Jeffrey Epstein’s home on the island of Little St. James in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Maxwell had said that she had little contact with Epstein after he was released from jail in Palm Beach County in 2009, but other records releases provided evidence that the pair remained in contact far longer. In one 2015 e-mail, for example, Epstein wrote to Maxwell, “You have done nothing wrong and I would urge you to start acting like it.”

The latest release of documents included a 2015 e-mail in which Epstein proposed that Maxwell offer rewards to friends and acquaintances of Giuffre willing to discredit her. Maxwell said in her deposition that she never acted on that advice.

But even as the documents saw the light of day, many secrets have remained buried by heavy redactions.

Why were the documents secret?

Legal experts said the documents should have never been secret in the first place.

“Our court system is an open system, and there shouldn’t be a secret docket. If a document is filed and made part of the public docket, it should be made public,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor.

Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA, a non-profit focused on ending child abuse, said she believes the newly released documents could lead to future legal charges or lawsuits against some of the perpetrators named in the documents, particularly those accused of crimes in New York City, which is allowing previously expired sex assault civil claims to go forward through March 2025.

“I have no doubt that both the state attorney general and the district attorney in New York City are going to be looking at this carefully,” she said.

In the absence of further criminal charges, some of Epstein’s victims have won victories in civil court cases and been compensated through a fund established for victims.

J.P. Morgan Chase settled a class-action lawsuit last year brought by Epstein’s victims, which had argued that the bank had facilitated Epstein’s abuse by continuing to do business with him even after his first conviction. The bank agreed to pay the victims $290 million. The bank also reached a settlement for $75 million with the U.S. Virgin Islands over its connection to Epstein. The multimillionaire owned an island there, flying in famous friends, elite scientists and young women.

Virginia Giuffre
Virginia Giuffre

A fund established with proceeds from Epstein’s estate paid out $121 million in 2021 to more than 135 people.

Giuffre in 2022 reached a settlement with Prince Andrew after filing a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault; the settlement is believed to be worth 12 million pounds or roughly $15 million. Giuffre had also previously reached a settlement with Epstein. She admitted in a settlement with famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, once part of Epstein’s legal team, that she might have been mistaken in accusing him of sexual abuse.