SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
There's probably a lot of sordidness to uncover in the story of Jeffrey Epstein, in custody this weekend after being charged with sex trafficking. He already served 13 months a decade ago on a work release where he could go into his office in Palm Beach for 12 hours a day.
It is sickening to recount the new charges - Epstein luring underage girls - children - into his various mansions and forcing them into sex acts. Courtney Wild, now an adult, told Julie K. Brown, the intrepid Miami Herald reporter who pursued the story, that she was 14 and wore braces when she was brought to Epstein's home. Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, she said. He went after girls he thought no one would listen to, and he was right. How could someone so prominent commit crimes on a staggering scale, evade prosecution and still host parties to which celebrities would flock like hungry birds?
This week, I read the 2002 New York Magazine profile of Epstein in which Donald Trump, who now says they had a falling out, declares he's a lot of fun to be with; it is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them around the younger side. The profile begins, he comes with cash to burn, a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for the ladies, to say nothing of a relentless brain. It goes on to say, as some collect butterflies, he collects beautiful minds. You notice a theme? Epstein is frequently seen around town with a bevy of comely young women, the article notes again and again, as if describing pieces of furniture. And his bevy of assistance - many of them conspicuously attractive young women.
He also paid to surround himself with famous friends. Epstein brings a trophy-hunter zeal to his collection of scientists and politicians, says the article, which includes plaudits from scientists whose work he helped fund, George Mitchell, the former Democratic Senate majority leader and, of course, Bill Clinton, whom he hosted on one of his planes for a trip to Africa to explore economic development. By the way, Kevin Spacey also joined them on that trip. He's now facing charges of sexual assault for groping a young man in a bar.
Jeffrey Epstein may have believed, as many celebrities seem to, that the radiance of fame can conceal almost anything.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.