Billionaire money manager Jeffrey Epstein, who donated $30 million to Harvard in 2003, has been charged with soliciting sex from prostitutes in his Palm Beach, Florida mansion—and has hired Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz to serve in his defense.
According to an indictment that was unsealed last week, Epstein allegedly solicited sex at least three times between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 of last year. According to a police report, the Palm Beach Police Department believes it has probable cause to charge Epstein with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and of lewd and lascivious molestation.
Epstein has retained Dershowitz as part of his defense team, according to the Palm Beach Post. The paper reported the case was going to be presented to a grand jury in February but was postponed after Dershowitz produced information further weakening the girls’ credibility.
Dershowitz attempted to discredit the reliability of the girls’ testimony by providing information from some of the girls’ myspace.com profiles in which they mentioned alcohol and marijuana use, the Post reported.
Epstein donated $30 million in February 2003 to fund the research of mathematical biologist Martin A. Nowak, who is the director of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.
It is unclear if Harvard will return any of Epstein’s donation. Neither Nowak nor University President Derek C. Bok could be reached for comment Monday.
The New York Daily News has reported that New York State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, who is currently running for Governor, has returned an approximately $50,000 gift from Epstein. And Mark A. Green, who is running to replace Spitzer as attorney general, has returned a $10,000 donation, according to the Daily News.
In April, Epstein lawyer Guy Fronstin accepted a plea deal that would have the billionaire plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, and would give him five years’ probation but no criminal record, according to the Post. That deal was to only apply to one of the five alleged victims.
Fronstin has since been fired, and a new defense attorney, Jack A. Goldberger, said that no such plea deal was made by any of Epstein’s attorneys, according to the Post.
Goldberger and Dershowitz could not be reached for comment Monday.
According to a police report released last week, someone contacted a woman involved in the case and told her that she would be compensated for not cooperating with the police. The woman said she was told that those who did talk to the police “would be dealt with,” according to the Post.
Goldberger told the Post that while his client did host women at his house, at issue was whether Epstein knew how old they were.
“He’s never denied girls came to the house,” Goldberger told the Post.
According to the probable cause affidavit released by the Palm Beach Police Department, one of the girls Epstein solicited for sexual acts was a 16-year-old girl who performed sexual acts for him in his bedroom on several occasions over a span of two years.
The woman, whose name was blotted from the affidavit, told the police that she would completely remove her clothes and begin massaging Epstein’s back, while he lay on a massage table, wearing only a towel. She would then massage his chest, and Epstein would begin to masturbate both himself and the woman.
The woman told the police that Epstein asked for her age and knew she was 16. She said that Epstein had asked her and another female to have intercourse in front of him, and that he also performed oral intercourse on both of them.
On one occasion when the women were fondling each other, Epstein allegedly grabbed the 16-year old woman, turned her over on to her stomach on the massage table, and forcibly penetrated her vagina with his penis.
“She said her head was being held against the table forcibly, as he continued to pump inside her,” according to the affidavit. “She screamed ‘No!’ and Epstein stopped.” Epstein apologized and paid the woman $1000 for that massage, according to the affidavit.
Epstein, who in 2003 was named one of New York’s most eligible bachelors by the New York Post, achieved fame after he took then-President Clinton on an African AIDS awareness tour on his personal jet.
In a 2002 New York Magazine article, Donald Trump described long-time friend Epstein as “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 are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life,” Trump said.
—Material from the Associated Press was used in the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Katherine M. Gray can be reached at email@example.com.