What is ‘Epstein list’ and who is Jeffrey Epstein: Explained

What is called ‘Epstein list’ is in fact not a list of names, as it is assumed, but the set of unsealed documents in the case. It includes court filings and depositions, including those which are redacted.
Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein
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On January 3, a New York judge began to unseal a tranche of documents containing the identities of people linked to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who died by suicide in 2019 as he awaited trial for sex crimes. The documents, infamously called the ‘Epstein list’, has details of individuals - some high-profile names - who were in the circle of Epstein. The recent set of names include Stephen Hawking, Leonardo DiCaprio and others. However, it is not an indication of any crimes committed by them. So, what is this list about?

Who is Jeffrey Epstein?

Jeffrey Epstein was an American billionaire financier, who was associated with celebrities, politicians, and academics. He was indicted in 2019 of operating a sex trafficking ring that involved minor girls.

Ghislaine Maxwell, who was an associate and one-time girlfriend of Epstein, was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking by a New York court in December 2021. She was handed a 20-year jail term in June 2022.

Maxwell is the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who founded a publishing house and owned tabloids, including the Daily Mirror. In the early 1990s, she moved to New York, where she began a romantic relationship with Epstein, who was a financier at the time. The two lived a lavish style and frequently attended high society parties. Maxwell largely disappeared from public view in 2016 and has been elusive since Epstein was charged with sex trafficking. 

Epstein was arrested for the first time in 2005 from Palm Beach in Florida, after a 14 year old accused him of paying her for sex. Following this, several women and underage girls accused him of sexually abusing them and running a sex racket.

Who are all named?

The most shocking accusation was made by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, accusing Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was 17. "I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one's life by speaking out and demanding justice," Giuffre said in a statement. However, Prince Andrew denied the accusation and said he had "no recollection" of ever meeting her. He later settled the case with her 

What is ‘Epstein list’?

What is called a ‘list’ is in fact not a list of names, as it is assumed, but the set of unsealed documents in the case. It includes court filings and depositions, including those which are redacted. These depositions and fillings were done by people involved in the case and those who were close to Epstein and Maxwell.

The papers mention Epstein's past friendship with former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, both of whom it appeared were not accused of any wrongdoing in the case. One of Epstein's accusers said she had met Michael Jackson at Epstein's Palm Beach, Florida, home, although she said nothing untoward had occurred.

The figures also include French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who was awaiting trial on charges that he raped underage girls. Brunel killed himself in a Paris jail in 2022.

What is being unsealed now?

There had been speculation that the documents that were made public would amount to a list of Epstein's "clients" and "co-conspirators." However, the first material to be released was mainly information that had already been made public in newspapers stories, legal cases, books and documentaries.

US district judge Loretta A Preska, who decided what documents should be unsealed and made public, said that the documents were being released as much of the information was already in the public domain.

The initial tranche unsealed now includes 40 previously undisclosed documents with almost 1,000 pages of depositions and statements, with the final batch expected to name prominent individuals.

The document includes a bunch of names from Hollywood. Michael Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio are some of the big names in the document along with politicians Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, reports Mirror.co.uk. Stars such as Cate Blanchett, Cameron Diaz, Bruce Willis and Kevin Spacey have also been name-dropped. 

The great majority of those whose names appear in the documents are not accused of wrongdoing or have been mentioned previously in legal proceedings.

(With inputs from DW and IANS)

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