Femke Lippens

4 Jun
Film & TV

How This Netflix Documentary Unravels Jeffrey Epstein’s Sexual Pyramid Scheme

[TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ABUSE] While we’re on the topic of abusing power, let’s talk about American financier Jeffrey Epstein. Netflix’s ‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich’ gives an insight into the billionaire’s narcissistic life, filled with abuse, money, and corruption. It’s a life he could get away with for over 30 years. In this limited Netflix documentary, we find out more about his victims’ experiences and the involvement of many other celebrities in his huge scheme of sex trafficking.

Who is Jeffrey Epstein?

During his lifetime, especially in the beginning of his fame, Epstein was often compared to Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. He was mysterious, had friends in high places, and was incredibly rich without anyone knowing where his wealth came from. But Epstein didn’t look like Gatsby at all. He didn’t care about fancy suits. Instead, he would always wear loose-fitting button-ups and sweatpants. Still, Epstein was incredibly rich and mostly put his wealth into his many multi-million-dollar homes. He was a Wall Street businessman and an overall charmer. But above all, Jeffrey Epstein was a sexual offender.

Survivor Chauntae Davies and Jeffrey Epstein in episode 3 of 'FILTHY RICH'. © Netflix

A story about the survivors

Director Lisa Bryant talked with survivors from all over the world. The first story we hear is that of Maria Farmer. She was the first woman to come forward with sexual assault claims back in 1996. She and her younger sister, Annie, were both assaulted by Epstein after he lured them into his life with opportunities and money. He promised Maria to help with her painting career and promised Annie an education to pursue her dream of going to an Ivy League school.

This became a reoccurring thing. Jeffrey’s girlfriend and co-conspirator at the time, Ghislaine Maxwell, would invite different girls over to Jeffrey’s estate in Palm Beach for an opportunity to make money and to get an education. The girls often came from broken families or had dealt with trauma in the past. They would get 200 dollars if they gave him a massage. During this, he would reveal his naked body to the girls, force them to strip for him, and rape them.

Afterward, he would tell them that if they brought other girls in, he would give them more money. With the girls coming from difficult lives, they would often agree because they had no other option. Many of the survivors say that they felt like they had to oblige out of fear of being killed or raped again.

Celebrity companions

So, we know his basic strategy, but that’s not where it ended.

Jeffrey Epstein had friends in high places, from actors to businessmen to presidents. We’re talking Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, British Prince Andrew, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Chris Tucker, Woody Allen, and Harvey Weinstein. And according to leaked documents from Anonymous, Naomi Cambell allegedly also belonged to his list of friends. Survivor Virginia Roberts Giuffre tweeted, “As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Naomi has so much information that would be useful to the investigation, one would only hope she cooperates, unlike her Conrad #PrinceAndrew.”

British Prince Andrew with survivor Virginia Giuffre, behind them stands Ghislaine Maxwell. © Netflix

In an interview for New York magazine in 2002, Trump talks lovingly about Epstein and says that he “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” A comment that already sounds suspicious, and definitely didn’t age well.

Epstein would send some of his beloved friends girls to abuse, and they would do the same for him. For his birthday, he allegedly got sent three French 12-year-old girls to take advantage of. It became a huge sex trafficking scheme.

A failing system

In 2003, Vanity Fair journalist Vicky Ward made a story about Epstein’s wealth and especially focussed on the experience of Maria and Annie. She uncovered he was molesting the girls, but the article was cut before publication. According to Ward, she was threatened by Epstein and was eventually prohibited by her boss to release the story, hinting that Epstein had bought his mouth shut.

That was far from the only time he bought his way out of a self-made mess. Victims like Maria would go to the police, and even FBI, but they never heard anything back. Epstein and Maxwell would then torture the girls, saying they knew where they lived and that they didn’t want to mess with them because Epstein basically owned the FBI.

Annie and Maria Farmer in 1996. © Netflix

In 2008, Epstein was charged with a single felony of solicitation of prostitution. He made a plea deal to only get sent to jail for 18 months. He served only 13 months of his time in a private part of the building with perks nobody else received. He was allowed work-release six days of the week and would afterward violate his probation on a daily basis. When people asked the probation office about it they said, “What do you want us to do? He’s a celebrity!”

Conspiracy theories

In June 2019, it was proven that the plea deal was a violation of the victim’s rights. He was charged with the crime of sex trafficking underage girls and sent to jail. But he didn’t spend much time there. In August, Epstein was found dead in his cell. He had presumably strangled himself with his bedsheets.

His death caused a huge outrage and three main theories emerged on social media:

1. Epstein killed himself because he knew his life was officially over;

2. Epstein was killed by other people in power (Trump, Clinton, Prince Andrew, …) because he had too much on them;

3. Epstein is not dead. He bought himself out of jail and is hiding out somewhere.

Mug shots of Jeffrey Epstein. © Netflix

Giving a voice to the unheard

Filthy Rich does a great job of giving a voice to the survivors who had been unheard for years, but it leaves us with many questions. In the final moment of the documentary, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, says, “The monsters are still out there, and they’re still abusing other people. Why they have not been named or shamed yet is beyond me.” It’s also beyond us and we hope they will try to expose them in a possible sequel.

We have by far not covered everything Jeffrey Epstein did, so the documentary is definitely worth adding to your list. Watch at your own risk though because it will make your blood boil.

‘Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich’ is now available on Netflix.

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