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Epstein scandal shows sinister methodology of sexual predator

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The United States billionaire, financier, and friend of presidents, Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested on 6 July for sex trafficking minors. Epstein is accused of paying girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, and then molesting them at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 to 2005.
by TALI FEINBERG | Jul 18, 2019

“The arrest by the FBI-NYPD (Federal Bureau of Investigation-New York Police Department) Crimes Against Children Task Force comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida,” said The Daily Beast in its coverage of these events.

The story has exploded across the world, with quick justice expected in the #MeToo era.

“Epstein’s bust comes mere months after a federal judge ruled that his 2007 non-prosecution agreement – secretly inked under former US attorney and [now former] Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta – violated federal law by keeping Epstein’s victims in the dark. Under the ‘sweetheart deal’, Epstein dodged federal charges that might have sent him to prison for life. Instead, he pleaded guilty to minor state charges in Palm Beach, and served 13 months in the private wing of a county jail, mostly on work release,” according to Daily Beast.

The charges, filed in New York, carry the potential of up to 45 years in prison, according to the Times of Israel. It was covering the fact that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had received financial support from Epstein.

Times of Israel quoted a story in Ha’aretz saying, “Barak was an active business partner of the disgraced financier as late as 2015. He formed a limited partnership company in Israel that year, called Sum (E.B.) 2015, to invest in a high-tech start up. A large part of the investment money was supplied by Epstein.”

Barak said he saw no problem at the time in going into business with Epstein. “He’d served his sentence for soliciting prostitution. The indictment didn’t say she was a minor,” but he pointed out, “according to the information now, he’s committed very serious offenses”.

Barak is just one of many friends of Epstein from high places. Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Woody Allan, Harvey Weinstein, Alec Baldwin, and Ralph Fiennes are reported to have been friends. He was also apparently close to people in the scientific community including the late Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and artificial intelligence expert Roger Schank.

Meanwhile, Epstein’s alleged system of sex trafficking was supported by others. “There was the team of recruiters and enablers bringing Epstein dozens of underage girls to sexually abuse, federal prosecutors allege,” Times of Israel reported. “There was the assistant who scheduled those encounters, and the butler who cleaned up afterward and doled out cash and gifts to the girls, authorities contend in court records.

“There were the mansions in New York and Florida, the sprawling ranch in New Mexico, the private island in the Caribbean that kept prying eyes at a distance, and the forms his employees had to sign swearing they wouldn’t speak about him publicly. All of it served to insulate Epstein with layer upon layer of secretiveness, investigators say, like a kingpin.”

“This is relevant to our community,” says Rebbetzin Wendy Hendler of Koleinu South Africa, a non-profit organisation offering support for victims of abuse via an anonymous and confidential helpline. “These predators are, by nature of their wealth or status, in a position of authority over these young girls. The girls are seduced by the glamour and the glitz of that world.

“They may be girls with low self-esteem, and often they are vulnerable to start off with, but not always. I think it’s the excitement that world represents to them that makes them so vulnerable to this person’s power,” says Hendler. “These predators know this very well, and cleverly utilise it to bring these girls ‘under their wing’ or so-called protection.

“They shower them with gifts, and give them a lot of personal attention. Slowly, they get drawn in by what seems like harmless behaviour like massages, which then escalate, by which stage the girls are completely under the person’s power.”

Hendler says this is the same methodology Sidney Frankel used to abuse children in Johannesburg. “The circumstances may look very different, but the modus operandi and psychological methodology is the same. We need to take this seriously, and make it relevant, so that our girls and young women are protected from predators of this nature.”

Epstein allegedly paid the abused girls more if they brought other girls into his network. “When girls and young women are disempowered and desperate for money, they are sitting ducks. At the time, they often don’t realise they are victims of a sexual predator. They may feel chosen and special, and not realise the damaging consequences. Often, they are happy to bring other girls into that milieu”, says Hendler.

“How do we protect? Educate, educate, educate. That’s why it’s so important that every child in the Jewish school system – we are starting in Grade R – should be educated consistently on how to keep themselves safe.

“It’s a crying shame that Epstein initially got such a light sentence. It’s an indictment on the legal system,” says Hendler. “Most likely, it was an unconsciousness response to a person of such influence. He is well-known in the scientific community, a philanthropist, and there’s an unconscious bias in favour of people like this. That needs to change.

“When you have a sexual predator that has been operating for so many years, the likelihood of them changing their behaviour is extremely low. He needs to go to jail for a very long time. The message needs to go out that there is no place to perpetrate these heinous crimes, and this message should go out in South Africa as well.”

Manny Waks, himself a survivor of child sexual abuse, and the founder of Kol v’Oz, an advocacy group to prevent sexual abuse in the global Jewish community, says this case is troubling “because it indicates that if you are rich and powerful, you can buy your way out of taking responsibility”.

“This is similar to the case of singer R Kelly. In both cases, we see how these people don’t act independently. They have a network of staff, supporters, and even fans that facilitate these sexual-abuse crimes. I hope that in this case, they are all held fully to account, both for the sake of justice, and as a deterrence.”

Waks says that child sexual abuse often happens in families or within close relationships like a neighbour or babysitter. So these allegations – of a significant child-sexual-abuse industry with dozens of victims and crossing state boundaries – are very disturbing. “We obviously need to examine how this was allowed to happen in this day and age in the US. The bigger issue is how our society allows and facilitates such behaviour.”

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