We put off watching(Netflix) for most of the summer. It's the story of a serial paedophile and the slime-balls around him, but our friends and family kept recommending it, so we put on the four-parter and prepared for the worst.
I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I’m usually a restless viewer, picking up my phone if the pace drops to see if I’m missing anything on Twitter. Not this time — had me from the opening shot.
You’re probably familiar with Epstein — a New York billionaire and convicted sex offender with friends in high places and palaces, arrested for further charges of trafficking minors for sex in 2019. He hanged himself in custody, leaving many unanswered questions. We know about him on this side of the Atlantic because he was regularly seen in public with Prince Andrew, and Andrew is the type who thinks it’s a good idea to do a TV interview on the BBC about his friendship with a convicted paedophile.
One of the awful things about the allegations around Andrew, Epstein, and Epstein's alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, is that you can get distracted by the glamour of private Caribbean Islands and mansions in New York. This show strips away the glamour. Yes, Epstein and Maxwell lived down the road from Donald Trump’s place in exclusive Palm Beach, but the testimonies of the teenage girls he lured will have you glued to the screen in horror.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. As well as bearing witness to lives ruined by Epstein, it shows how money can clear the way for evil people. I never believed in the notion of evil people before this, but I do now. Epstein, allegedly helped by Maxwell, recruited school girls from the adjoining, poorer area of West Palm Beach. Many of these girls were from broken homes — one of them witnessed her father beating her brother to death. These are the people Epstein preyed on. Aware that this could get him in trouble, he visited the Palm Beach Police Department and donated $100,000 worth of technology to the chief of police, Michael Reiter.
It didn’t work. Reiter is one of the heroes here , believing the victims when they told their story and building a case against Epstein that charted more than 100 cases of abuse. Bizarrely, prosecutors in Florida cut a deal and Epstein spent 13 months in a private wing of the jail, while enjoying immunity from further prosecution and the possibility of being locked up for the rest of his life.
It’s jaw-dropping. There is a conspiracy theory on Facebook that Covid-19 is a hoax, dreamed up by the global elite that are sex-trafficking young people. It’s bullshit, like most things doing the rounds on Facebook. But it’s unfortunately plausible, thanks to what Jeffrey Epstein did with his massive wealth. There seems no end to the damage he can cause.