Registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein attempted to rehabilitate his image and shift the conversation away from his crimes following a 2008 conviction for soliciting sex from a minor, placing a series of articles in prominent publications painting him as a philanthropist focused on advancing the boundaries of science and technology, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Epstein is currently being held on charges of running an illegal sex ring. In 2008, he was convicted of abusing dozens of underage girls, but was given what was generally considered a lenient sentence — 13 months in a private wing of a county jail. He was allowed to leave for work six days a week as long as he returned to the facility at night. Epstein and his associates were given immunity from federal prosecution.
Following his release from prison, Epstein embarked on a media blitz, using public relations professionals to place articles in publications such as Forbes, the National Review and HuffPost. According to the Times, in the case of Forbes and HuffPost, the stories, which described Epstein as “one of the largest backers of cutting-edge science around the world” and a person “taking action to help a number of scientists thrive during the ‘Trump Era,’ respectively, were written by outside contributors who were able to publish to the site with minimal, if any, editorial oversight.
The author of the article in the National Review was identified as “a publicist for Mr. Epstein” by the Times.
All three of the stories were removed from the internet after the Times began making inquiries. Neither Forbes nor HuffPost still allow unfiltered outsider publishing on their platforms.
Around that same period, technology website The Next Web published an interview with Epstein that stated that he used “his resources to beneficial, unlikely ends” and made no mention of his conviction or status as a registered sex offender.
In February, a judge ruled Epstein’s 2008 deal illegal because his victims were not notified before the agreement was approved. The case was reopened after a Miami Herald reporter identified some 80 alleged victims who said they were recruited into a sex ring run by Epstein and made to recruit others.
Last week, Manhattan federal judge Richard Berman denied Epstein bail, ruling that the 66-year-old financier poses a danger to former victims and potential new ones. He is currently being charged for allegedly sexually exploiting dozens of underage girls by paying them cash for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his Palm Beach residence. According to court records in Florida, authorities say at least 40 underage girls were brought into Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for what turned into sexual encounters after female fixers looked for suitable girls locally and in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.
Epstein’s legal woes have caused turmoil on both sides of the Atlantic, with prominent figures in both the United States and Israel scrambling to contain the fallout. In the United States, secretary of labor Alexander Acosta resigned amid debate over his role in securing Epstein’s plea deal when he served as a US attorney in Miami.
In Israel, former prime minister Ehud Barak recently announced that his attorneys are working to dissolve a limited partnership company that he formed with Epstein. This connection has become an issue as Israel heads for elections, with incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party alleging that his rival attended a party hosted by Epstein in 2016.