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07.22.10

The Billionaire Pedophile's Sex Den

Hedge fund mogul and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who went free this week, lived in a depraved world of thrice-daily massages, pornographic artwork, and hush money—that’s only now being revealed. Conchita Sarnoff reports on the sordid details in part two of her exclusive exposé.

Hedge fund mogul and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who went free this week, lived in a depraved world of thrice-daily massages, pornographic artwork, and hush money—that’s only now being revealed. Conchita Sarnoff reports on the sordid details in part two of her exclusive exposé. Also:

• Nude images of young girls were scattered around the house and the bathroom soap was shaped like sex organs

• Staff trolled for fresh recruits to make sure Epstein had two or three massage appointments each day

• The house manager has been sentenced to a longer prison term than Epstein—for trying to sell notes regarding massage appointments

• Epstein gave $1 million to his friend Jean Luc Brunel when he was starting the modeling agency MC2

• According to a former bookkeeper, young girls were brought to the U.S. by MC2—often from Eastern Europe—then traveled on Epstein’s private jets

Jeffrey Epstein’s loyal friends say that his prosecution was unduly harsh, rather than outrageously lenient. They insist that his sexual habits, although obsessive and unusual, were mostly legal and essentially harmless. As the police records attest, the girls brought to El Brillo Way were routinely told they could “say no” at any time during a massage as Epstein escalated contact in a step-by-step assault that was remarkably similar in every victim’s statement: First she would be asked to remove her shirt, then her pants. He would attempt to fondle her buttocks and breasts as he masturbated, then bring out a large vibrator. There was sometimes digital penetration, and the more willing girls were lured into full-blown sexual relations with both Epstein and Nadia Marcinkova, who was referred to in press accounts and police reports as Epstein’s live-in “sex slave.”

A former bookkeeper in the Miami office, who also arranged visas for girls traveling to the U.S., confirmed that MC2 girls became frequent guests on Epstein’s private jets.

It’s true that some underage girls may have lied about their age, and some came to the house voluntarily several times—although, according to Florida statutes, none of that has any bearing on the criminality of the contact, particularly if the girl was 16 or younger. But what is particularly disturbing about this case—judging by arrangements at the Palm Beach house—is that Epstein, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, organized his life around this sexual compulsion in an open and methodical way that suggests he felt he was beyond the law.

• Conchita Sarnoff: Epstein Faces Sex Traffic Probe
Billionaire Pedophile Goes Free
According to police who executed a search warrant, the house was decorated with large, framed photos of nude young girls, and similar images were found stashed in an armoire and on the computers seized at the house (although police found only bare cables where other computers had been). Some bathrooms were stocked with soap in the shape of sex organs, and various sex toys, such as a “twin torpedo” vibrator and creams and lubricants available at erotic specialty shops, were stowed near the massage tables set up in several rooms upstairs.

Epstein also enlisted his staff in the predatory activity, and four—Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, and Marcinkova—figured in the FBI investigation. The Non Prosecution Agreement stipulated that they would not be charged. According to police reports and sworn statements in the civil suits, all four women, among their other duties, worked to ensure that an appointment book for twice- or thrice-daily “massages” was stocked with fresh recruits. Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late Czechoslovakian-born press baron Robert Maxwell, who was for many years Epstein’s live-in partner, also recruited young girls.

Since his 13-month sentence for soliciting prostitution with a minor, Epstein has settled more than a dozen lawsuits brought by underage girls. Seven victims reached a last-minute deal last week, days before a scheduled trial; each received well over $1 million—an amount that will hardly dent Epstein’s $2 billion net worth.

The victims told police they waited in the kitchen to be called upstairs for a massage, and the house chef often gave them a bite to eat. House manager Alfredo Rodriguez said in his sworn statement that a maid named Lupita, who was a devout Catholic, wept when she complained to him about cleaning up after the massage sessions, picking up soiled towels and putting away the sex toys. And she was upset that a photo of Epstein with the pope hung next to one of him with a young girl.

Ironically, Rodriguez, who ran the house on El Brillo Way in 2004 and 2005, ended up being sentenced to more jail time than his boss as a result of the complex investigation into Epstein’s activities. He was fired, he says, for inadvertently drawing police attention to one of the girls when she arrived at the house unannounced to collect money. He saw an unfamiliar “beater” in the driveway one evening and called 911. When he left Epstein’s employ, Rodriguez took away some notes and emails about massage appointments as “protection” against his own prosecution, and failed to produce them during the Palm Beach Police Department’s initial investigation.

Unable to get work as a house manager elsewhere in South Florida, he says, Rodriguez later tried to sell this “golden nugget”—his term—for $50,000, to be used in the victims’ civil suits. Unfortunately, he made the offer to an undercover cop, and was subsequently charged with “obstruction of official proceedings” for withholding information that could have advanced the criminal investigation of Epstein—which by that point had been settled in a plea deal. Rodriguez was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison (Epstein was allowed to serve 13 months in the Palm Beach county jail), and now awaits an additional sentence on Aug. 24 in federal court in Miami for transporting firearms, another deal he says he made to pay the bills after he lost his job.

In a deposition given for the civil suits, Rodriguez testified that he was instructed to always have $2,000 in cash on hand, so that he could pay both the girls who gave massages and recruiters such as Haley Robson who brought them to the house. He also testified that Epstein made large contributions to the Palm Beach Police Department, and in return was given PBPD baseball hats to put on the dashboard of his various cars to avoid being stopped or ticketed by local police. Retired Police Chief Michael Reiter, in his own deposition, acknowledged that, in addition to earlier donations to the police department (which are fairly common in well-heeled Palm Beach), Epstein had recently given the department $100,000 for some sophisticated equipment. The police were still researching the purchase when Epstein came under suspicion, and Reiter ordered the money returned. (Guy Frostin, one of Epstein’s local attorneys, told police that Epstein also gave $100,000 to the Florida Ballet for massages, because he was “very passionate” about massages being “therapeutically and spiritually” beneficial. Yet victims told police they had no massage training.)

Perhaps most disturbing, in terms of possible sex trafficking, was Epstein’s relationship with Jean Luc Brunel, owner of the MC2 modeling agency. According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an alleged victim said that Epstein, Maxwell, Brunel, Rodriguez, and Marcinkova “deliberately engaged in a pattern of racketeering that involved luring minor children through MC2, mostly girls under the age of 17, to engage in sexual play for money.” (Which would amount to trafficking.)

Brunel is a 50-plus French playboy who was formerly part owner of Karin, a Paris-based modeling agency. He lives in New York and South Beach, Florida, and owns 85 percent of MC2, which has offices in New York, Miami, and Tel Aviv. (The remaining 15 percent is owned by his partner, Jeff Fuller.) Brunel has been observed as a house guest at Epstein’s Palm Beach home and may well have had contact with him also in New York, where Epstein owns a lavish home, and in Paris, where Epstein keeps an apartment on elegant Ave. Foch.

CBS reporter Craig Pyes, who investigated Brunel for a 60 Minutes broadcast many years ago, is quoted in Michael Gross’ book about the modeling industry, Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. Pyes told the author that Brunel “ranks among the sleaziest people in the fashion industry. We’re talking about a conveyor belt, not a casting couch. Hundreds of girls were not only harassed but molested.” Now The Daily Beast has learned that Epstein had made a $1 million wire transfer to Brunel’s offshore bank account in September 2004, just as he was setting up MC2. Whether this was a gift or a loan or a backdoor investment in the new venture is unknown. A French citizen who managed to avoid giving evidence in the Epstein investigation, Brunel declined to comment on any of this, as does Fuller. Asked in April of Brunel’s activities, Epstein said “I’m 100 percent convinced that he doesn’t traffic children.” (Brunel has never been charged.)

An American fashion designer who booked her girls through MC2 says they were very young and very beautiful; many were from Eastern Europe and spoke little English. A former bookkeeper in the agency’s Miami office, who also arranged visas for girls traveling to the U.S., confirmed that MC2 girls became frequent guests on Epstein’s private jets.

Pilot logs obtained in the civil suits show that some of the named plaintiffs were on the flight manifests. Other times, the pilot would just list the other passengers plus "female.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misidentified the subject of Craig Pyes’ investigation and the title of Michael Gross’ book. The Daily Beast has corrected the subject and title and regrets the error.

Read Conchita Sarnoff's original report on Epstein.

Conchita Sarnoff has developed multimedia communication programs for Fortune 500 companies and has produced three current events debate television programs, The Americas Forum, From Beirut to Kabul, and a segment for The Oppenheimer Report. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is writing a book about child trafficking in America.