Chauntae Davies Describes Coming Forward As Epstein Accuser
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
We're learning more about how financier Jeffrey Epstein recruited the girls and young women he's accused of sexually abusing and assaulting. Epstein's apparent suicide means he won't face trial on federal sex trafficking charges. But before the judge dismissed the case, he allowed Epstein's accusers to testify in court. I spoke with one of them - Chauntae Davies. And just a warning - our conversation is disturbing and may not be appropriate for all listeners.
Chauntae Davies was 21 years old when she first met Epstein. She was studying massage, and her teacher asked her to come along with him to an appointment with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's longtime companion.
CHAUNTAE DAVIES: He introduced me to her. And that same night, she called him, offering me a job to fly me to Palm Beach to work as a masseuse for the weekend. And because I hadn't even graduated from massage school yet and because I had just started training with him, you know, obviously, I felt like I didn't know what I was doing. So my immediate answer was, no way. And through my massage teacher's convincing, you know, he explained that she was a prominent socialite and she was a regular client of his. And so he convinced me to go, and I left on her private plane that same night with her to Palm Beach.
CHANG: So you fly to Palm Beach. What happens then?
DAVIES: You know, we finally arrived at their mansion in Palm Beach. And one of the very first things I remember her saying to me is Donald Trump was a neighbor and, you know, her partner Jeffrey is sort of the Ralph Lauren type - is how she kind of explained it to me - and did I like that type? And I remember thinking, like, what a strange comment, you know? Like, why would she be asking me if her partner - I obviously assumed that meant romantic partner, you know?
DAVIES: You know, she said, he's sort of Ralph Lauren type. Do you like that type? And here I am thinking, like, God, no.
CHANG: What did she ask you to do?
DAVIES: She didn't tell me to do anything. She just said, just do whatever he asks, and you'll be fine. And again, that's another comment that was made as we were leaving the car as we walked into the house that didn't land right away. But obviously, in hindsight now, that - the comment, you know, landed pretty hard with me.
CHANG: Can you tell me what happened the first time you met Jeffrey Epstein?
DAVIES: So you know, when we first got to the house, immediately, my stomach was just a mess. So I spent, like, the first part of the day just kind of sick and napping and trying to sleep it off.
They had one of their assistants in the kitchen, and then the same assistant came knocking on my door, saying that Jeffrey was ready for his massage. She showed me to their room, and there was a massage table already set up. And so I got the table ready, and then he came waltzing in and threw his bathrobe off and got on the table and sort of looked me up and down and started asking me 21 questions. And I proceeded to massage him and try to focus on the massage.
And before I knew it - I mean, he was pretty quick into it - he flipped over onto his back and asked if I minded if he touched himself. I had come from a background of abuse where I had just kind of been taught to just look the other way, really, and not say anything. And I gave him the OK to touch himself because I didn't know what else to say or do in that moment. And he finished and jumped off the table and got in the shower and said, OK, that's all now; thank you. And I left the room, you know, with my head spinning, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
CHANG: Did you tell anyone what happened?
DAVIES: No, I didn't tell anybody because I continued to feel throughout most of the experience that he was doing this behind Ghislaine's back, you know? And so there was another layer of deceit that I felt - like, I felt like it was my fault. And here's a woman who had shown an interest in me in a motherly sort of way, almost. And I just had so much pressure not to do anything to screw any of that up.
CHANG: So after that first encounter, you did go back. Can you tell me why?
DAVIES: Yeah. So that initial weekend when I was first in Palm Beach, I never saw Jeffrey. I mean, I might've seen him walking around the house, but we never had any sort of interaction after that. Ghislaine paid me and put me on a commercial flight and sent me home. And over the next couple of months, she came out to LA a few times and booked separate appointments with me just alone. And I accepted those appointments because at that point, I really still believed that she had no clue what was happening, and I felt a certain amount of loyalty to her right away, in a way.
DAVIES: It happened very quickly - my feeling of not wanting to disappoint her.
CHANG: Right. Over how many years did you keep seeing Jeffrey Epstein?
DAVIES: It went on for about a little over three years.
CHANG: And I understand that the abuse escalated over the years.
CHANG: Do you feel OK talking about how?
DAVIES: Not necessarily right now. I mean, I - this is something I had intended to take to the grave. I was never going to come forward with this. I really wasn't. I kept it a secret because I was just so ashamed, you know?
DAVIES: And I really still felt like it was my fault because I kept going back.
CHANG: What moved you to come forward, ultimately?
DAVIES: So ultimately, it ended up ruining my life in every capacity. It's affected my health, my family, my emotional and mental well-being and, ultimately, even jobs. You know, I've been offered all these amazing jobs of a lifetimes that I fought really hard to get and I beat out other candidates for. And each time the job would be offered to me, it would then be retracted because of my connection to Jeffrey Epstein.
So that's what led me to finally come forward because I had just reached a point where I was like, you know, this man was out buying second islands and second airplanes just to show off while I was struggling to feed myself and couldn't even get myself a good job because of him, you know?
CHANG: Right. How did you feel when you found out about Epstein's death?
DAVIES: It was definitely not a good moment. And it's still not, you know? Even every single time I hear those words, there's a certain amount of anger that shoots through my blood that I can't explain.
CHANG: What are you angry at?
DAVIES: I'm angry that there's no justice in that, you know? He's not ever going to be here to face the music or to hear the pain that he's caused or the lives that he's destroyed. I mean, after all I've gone through, I finally came forward. And it almost feels all for nothing now, you know? I'm sorry. I'm just, like, getting...
DAVIES: ...Emotional about it. It...
CHANG: Do not worry about that.
DAVIES: It's so hard to, like, finally put yourself in a place where you're ready to tell the world and then to feel like any justice that you would have gotten out of that has been robbed from you.
CHANG: Do you think something can be done now? Is there something you want to see done now that would help you feel that justice has been done?
DAVIES: I don't know. People keep asking me that, and I keep going back and forth 'cause one minute, I'm like, no, there is no justice. My justice was - I needed him to hear what I had to say, and I'm never going to get that. But then there's part of me that's like, no, I'm going after this like a dragon, and I will find justice somehow.
And I don't know what that necessarily means, and I don't know how I find that, but there's part of me that's, like, refused to let this man win in death, you know? I just, like, can't let that happen. He's won every single day of my life for the last 13 years, and I'm not going to spend the rest of my life letting that continue to happen.
CHANG: I am so sorry about what you have gone through and what you are still going through, but I want to thank you for taking the time with us to share your story. And I wish you all the best.
DAVIES: Appreciate that - thank you.
CHANG: Chauntae Davies is one of the women who has accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexual abuse and sexual assault. And we should add that federal authorities are looking for Ghislaine Maxwell. In the past, she has denied any wrongdoing.
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