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Epstein, Jane Doe, and Trump

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

MSNBC calls it the “Epstein Firestorm.” Billionaire philanthropist and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested again July 6 on sex trafficking charges dating back to the early 2000s.

Post-Cosby, post-Weinstein, #MeToo movement era America learned (suddenly, for some reason) that the Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta while a U.S. attorney in Miami in 2008 secured a lenient deal for this character. Alan Dershowitz and William Barr also served on his legal team. He was convicted of solicitation and sentenced to 13 months in prison but allowed to work in his office 12 hours a day.

We’re reminded that Epstein has had powerful friends, including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Dershowitz, Woody Allen and Prince Andrew. Some of them have noted (jocularly) his passion for young women, and perhaps they’ve admired his ability to use his money to procure and train underage females for group sex. And to offer free air travel plus sex with teenage girls in international airspace. Epstein’s private jet is referred to as the “Lolita Express.”

It appears that British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a friend of Chelsea Clinton’s who attended her wedding, may have been a partner with Epstein in the recruitment of underage females for prostitution for many years. There’s good evidence that Clinton and Dershowitz both visited Epstein’s private island Little St. James Island in the Virgin Islands that had a reputation among locals as “Pedophilia Island.”

In 2016 a “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit charging Donald Trump with “a savage sexual attack” in 1994, in Epstein’s house, when she was 13. The lawsuit included witness corroboration of her account that she was raped by both Epstein and Trump. The lawsuit was dropped days before the November election after the claimant had been threatened.

This is probably going to be a big story, affecting many powerful men.

There being a lot of Clintons, Trumps, Dershowitzes and princes in this world, I imagine there is much scandal to follow. There has been in my generation a sea change in attitudes towards gender and sexuality, and the articulation of a general abhorrence of patriarchy. Sexual harassment has been generally recognized as a problem and condemned. Sex involving adults and partners who are of underage status (as defined in any particular place) has been problematized.

Here the issue is the possibility that famous, powerful men had sex with girls that would by U.S. law be underage, courtesy of Epstein.

Multiple women accuse Trump and Clinton of rape. These have so far been deniable accusations, “he said, she said” situations supporters can dismiss. But the exposure of elite men as statutory rapists secretly enjoying a culture of underage sex trafficking may be impossible to dismiss. It is one thing to be called out for paying for sex with adults who may or may not be “trafficked” (like Patriots owner Robert Kraft) and another to be outed as a child-rapist.

Justifying his role in the 2008 legal case, in which he helped Epstein receive a slap on the wrist while neglecting to inform victims of the verdict and sentencing, Acosta told reporters at his news conference: “Today’s world treats victims very very differently.” As though the world 11 years ago was insensitive, and he admittedly insensitive too, but it was a matter of the times! The arrangement, perhaps, of the stars.

It’s in fact a different world from 1994, when Jane Doe claims Epstein and Trump raped her at age 13. If she would come forward now, after Epstein has been so well-exposed, and tell her story it could mean impeachment more surely than any bogus Russian ties.

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Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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