Updated Jan 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to know about the unsealed Jeffrey Epstein documents

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend an event on June 13, 1995, in New York City. Photo: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

A federal judge unsealed hundreds of pages of court documents this week from a lawsuit related to deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The big picture: The first tranche of documents includes dozens of names deriving from a civil lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, who was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison on sex trafficking and other charges for helping Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

State of play: U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska last month ordered most of the material within 187 entries listed under the pseudonym "J. Doe" be released after Jan. 1. in regard to the suit, pending any appeal from those named in it.

  • In part of that lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre accused Maxwell of facilitating her sexual abuse. The case was settled in 2017, though the terms were not made public.
  • Known Epstein associates including modeling agent Jean Luc Brunel, who died while on trial for charges he denied connected to the sex trafficking ring, are mentioned in the court filings — which also name a number of prominent figures.

Who is named in the documents?

Former President Clinton is mentioned dozens of times in both releases, though the filings do not indicate any evidence of illegality on his part, and his representatives said they did not object to the unsealing. In one instance, one of Epstein's accusers says the financier had remarked that Clinton "likes them young," referring to girls.

  • In response to Axios' request for comment, Angel Ureña, a spokesperson for Clinton, pointed to a 2019 statement issued shortly after Epstein was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges. Ureña had said Clinton had no knowledge of "the terrible crimes" with which Epstein was charged.
  • Ureña added that Clinton had "not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein's ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida."

Of note: Documents released Thursday include an allegation from Giuffre that Clinton had stormed into the offices of Vanity Fair and "threatened them not to write sex-trafficking articles about his good friend J.E."

  • However, Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair's editor-in-chief at the time, told The Telegraph: "This categorically did not happen."

Former President Trump is mentioned in the documents, but no reference is made to any illicit behavior on his part.

  • A witness recalled Epstein saying "we'll call up Trump" during a stop in Atlantic City.

Prince Andrew is referenced repeatedly in the documents. In one instance, an Epstein accuser testified that the British prince allegedly "put his hand on my breast." He has always denied any wrongdoing in regards to his links to Epstein.

  • Giuffre alleged in a separate suit that Epstein arranged for Prince Andrew to sexually abuse and rape her when she was 17. Prince Andrew, the second son of the late Queen Elizabeth II, settled the lawsuit in 2022 but did not admit to wrongdoing in the settlement.
  • In documents released Thursday, King Charles' brother is accused of "groping a woman."

Alan Dershowitz, who helped Epstein get a sweetheart plea deal, is named in the filings more than 130 times.

  • Giuffre in 2022 withdrew a lawsuit alleging she was trafficked by Epstein to Dershowitz, saying she "may have made a mistake" in identifying him. Dershowitz told News Nation Wednesday he welcomed the release of the documents, which he said would show he had "done nothing wrong."

Michael Jackson: A witness named in the documents said she met the late singer at Epstein's house in Palm Beach.

David Copperfield: A witness said she spoke with the magician at a dinner at Epstein's home. She did not describe any illegal behavior by Copperfield. Representatives for Copperfield did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Stephen Hawking appears once in the documents, when Epstein told Maxwell in an email she could offer a reward to friends of Giuffre if they could disprove unsubstantiated claims, including that the late physicist had taken part in an "underage orgy."

Between the lines: Some of the names, a handful of which Preska has ordered remain sealed, include other accusers, witnesses and alleged perpetrators.

  • The court issued an order on Wednesday, before the documents' unsealing, extending the anonymity of two Does.

Who are Epstein and Maxwell?

  • Epstein was a disgraced financier, millionaire and convicted sex offender.
  • He died inside his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in August 2019. Investigators ruled his death a suicide.

Epstein died while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. He was accused of sex trafficking female minors, witness tampering and paying underage girls to engage in sexual acts.

  • In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida state court as part of a controversial deal that granted him immunity from federal prosecution.

Maxwell, once a British socialite and daughter of the late press baron Robert Maxwell, was a close associate of Epstein.

  • The 62-year-old is serving her sentence at a Florida federal prison after being found guilty in late 2021 of five counts, including sex trafficking of minors, and recruiting and grooming teenagers for Epstein from 1999-007.

What to watch: This was only an initial batch of documents, with more expected in the coming days.

Go deeper: JPMorgan agrees to pay $75 million in settlement over Epstein ties

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout and to correct a quote from Virginia Giuffre regarding why she withdrew a lawsuit against attorney Alan Dershowitz.

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