Epstein floodgates open: More than a dozen women come forward with new allegations

If Jeffrey Epstein’s hoping that an old plea deal will somehow rescue him from his legal trap, those hopes are fading fast. The Miami Herald reports this morning that more than a dozen women have contacted attorneys to seek justice for Epstein’s sexual abuse. And at least thus far, no one knows how many women have contacted prosecutors directly:

At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein even as the multimillionaire money manager tries to convince a federal judge to allow him to await a sex trafficking trial from the comfort of the same $77 million Manhattan mansion where he’s accused of luring teenage girls into unwanted sex acts.

Following Epstein’s arrest Saturday in New Jersey, four women have reached out to New York lawyer David Boies, and at least 10 other women have approached other lawyers who have represented dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims in the past.

Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney, said at least five women, all of whom were minors at the time of their alleged encounters with Epstein, have reached out to either him or Fort Lauderdale lawyer Brad Edwards.

“The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation,’’ Scarola said.

It’s unclear whether these new victims will allege sexual abuse that took place after Epstein’s 2007 plea deal. That agreement “globally” sufficed for the crimes US Attorney Alex Acosta brought against Epstein, whose attorneys now argue closed the books on any allegations of sexual abuse prior to that agreement. It’s still an open question whether a federal judge will buy that claim or side with prosecutors’ argument that the agreement didn’t bind the Southern District of New York. However, if any new victims come forward for the period after that agreement, then Epstein’s agreement will be mooted anyway.

Don’t forget, too, that investigators discovered an alleged treasure trove of pictures depicting nude images of possibly underaged girls. These new victims might be able to certify that the pictures are of them and what age they were when taken. Child pornography won’t get covered by the previous agreement anyway, so if Epstein’s attorneys can’t invalidate the search warrant, that’s yet another way in which Epstein would be doomed.

Keeping the pictures might have sealed Epstein’s fate in another way. Usually in crimes of this nature, it gets more and more difficult to validate claims of sexual abuse as time goes by. Forensic evidence disappears, details grow dim, and later issues in the lives of victims create credibility issues. If prosecutors have pictures of these women, however, it makes it veeerrrrry easy for victims to have their allegations validated and for prosecutors to win convictions. Epstein had to be insane to keep them — and it shows how prosecutors might have blown it in 2007 by not getting their hands on the pictures at that point.

Epstein will appear in court soon to make a pitch to be released on bail. His attorneys have offered $77 million as a guarantee of his appearance for trial:

Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers Thursday asked a federal judge to release the accused sex predator on a bail package worth up to $77 million.

The request was made in court papers filed three days after federal prosecutors in New York proposed that Epstein remain behind bars without bond for allegedly preying on dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005.

“The government seeks to remand a self-made New York native and lifelong American resident based on dated allegations for which he was already convicted and punished,” Epstein’s lawyers wrote.

Imagine having to offer $77 million as a starting point for bail negotiations. Epstein can afford it, but it would be difficult for any judge to agree to bail for a man who’s such an obvious flight risk. Besides, that’s not the only risk that Epstein presents. The Miami Herald reminds its readers about Epstein’s ruthlessness the last time around — and how he targeted law enforcement:

During the 2006-2007 probe in South Florida, federal agents considered charging Epstein with witness tampering because he used some of his employees to try to intimidate victims so that they wouldn’t cooperate with police, court records reviewed by the Herald show.

In one instance, a victim’s father told Palm Beach police that he had been followed by someone and forced off the road. He wrote down the car’s license plate number and police traced it to a private investigation company that had been hired by Epstein’s legal team, the police report about the incident said.

Epstein’s investigators also followed the then-Palm Beach police chief, Michael Reiter, and the lead detective in the case, Joe Recarey. Recarey said he was so concerned about the aggressive tactics Epstein was using that he would often switch vehicles in an attempt to throw them off.

“At some point it became like a cat-and-mouse game. I would stop at a red light and go. I knew they were there, and they knew I knew they were there. I was concerned about my kids because I didn’t know if it was someone that they hired just out of prison that would hurt me or my family,’’ Recarey told the Herald as part of its series on the case.

CNN also highlights this chapter of Epstein’s past:

During that probe, at least three private investigators who police believed were working on Epstein’s behalf tracked down accusers and possible witnesses to the alleged attacks, according to the police reports. They sat in black SUVs outside the homes of accusers, questioned their current and former boyfriends, and chased one parent’s car off the road, according to police reports and a lawyer for three accusers. Epstein’s current attorney Reid Weingarten denied in a court filing Thursday any knowledge of the alleged car chase and said if it happened, it was not authorized by Epstein. …

The aggressive tactics didn’t stop with witnesses or accusers, according to court filings, police reports, and attorneys, but also extended to the prosecutors.

Prosecutors will likely cite chapter and verse of these recollections in asking the judge to deny bail. If Epstein does get out, don’t be surprised if the sudden flood of victims gets choked down to a mere trickle. There’s a very good reason these women didn’t come forward until Epstein was behind bars.

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