Epstein estate has failed to turn over any documents: Victims' attorneys
Lawyers for the estate say they are reviewing a huge database of documents.
Nine months after convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell, a contentious behind-the-scenes debate between attorneys for some of his alleged victims and attorneys for his $634 million estate has spilled into public view for the first time.
A lawyer for three women - each separately suing the estate - contends in court filings that the estate’s legal team has yet to produce a single document in response to voluminous pre-trial discovery requests and has engaged in “obstructionist conduct” that requires immediate attention from the court.
“Court intervention is required now so that [the estate] can begin reviewing and producing documents concerning the sex-trafficking conspiracy they are trying to keep secret,” wrote Sigrid McCawley, attorney for accuser Juliette Bryant, in one of three letters filed with the court over the past 10 days.
In another letter, McCawley accused the defense team of “attempting to game the process to maximize delay.”
Bryant and other alleged victims are asking the estate to turn over a broad array of items they contend are relevant to their claims of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse - including photographs, video and audio recordings from his airplanes and homes, financial records and communications with his alleged co-conspirators, employees and government officials that span a period of nearly two decades.
Epstein, who died in prison last August after being charged in a federal indictment with child sex trafficking, had forged relationships with many powerful people in politics, business and academia.
In response, attorneys for the estate’s co-executors Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn have objected to the scope and time frame of the victims’ requests for documents in letters to the court written by lawyer Matthew Aaronson, calling them “clearly overbroad and unduly burdensome” and “not proportional to the needs of the case.”
Indyke and Kahn, an attorney and an accountant, each worked with Epstein for many years. Epstein selected the pair as co-executors of his estate in a will he drafted in jail two days before his death.
In a letter filed last week, Aaronson wrote that the co-executors have now compiled a database of more than 730,000 documents, but the task of obtaining documents and information from Epstein’s “large complicated estate” had been hampered by delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so they expect to begin producing documents this week.
More than 30 victims of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse have filed suit against his estate since his arrest and subsequent death last summer. Some cases have been voluntarily put on hold by the plaintiffs as they await possible probate court approval of a victims’ restitution fund proposed by the estate that could resolve their claims outside of litigation. Dozens of alleged victims have expressed interest in joining the voluntary program, according to court filings in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein filed his last will and testament.
But the proposal has been in limbo for months after Denise George, the Attorney General for the U.S. Virgin Islands, filed criminal liens against the Epstein estate in January, effectively freezing all the assets worldwide.
McCawley contends in court filings that the estate is dragging its feet on document production in Bryant’s case and others in hopes that the restitution fund would soon be approved.
“Defendants’ failure to produce a single document or meaningfully respond to discovery requests can only be viewed as an intentional effort to delay discovery,” McCawley wrote.
The federal magistrate judge overseeing pre-trial motions in most of the victims’ lawsuits in New York has set a hearing for Friday morning in response to the letters from the victims’ attorneys. They are asking the court for an order compelling the Epstein estate to begin producing documents. Under a previous court order, the deadline for completing the exchange of documents in several of the victims’ lawsuits was set for early July.
Bryant, 37, filed her lawsuit against the estate in November claiming that Epstein repeatedly raped and sexually abused her over the course of several years at his homes in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands, beginning when she was a 20-year-old aspiring model.
She alleges that another young woman invited her to meet Epstein in South Africa, while he was on a trip through several African nations with a “former high U.S. Government official, a famous actor, and a well-known comedian” in 2002.
“She was invited to attend a speech the former high U.S. Government official was giving in Cape Town the next day,” her complaint states, “and was escorted to the speech by police cars with individuals associated with the former official.” The lawsuit does not name those individuals, or the former government official, actor or comedian.
But in a letter to the court, McCawley contended that documents related to Epstein's recruitment of Bryant during the trip, including travel plans and itineraries, would be “highly relevant” to the claims in Bryant’s lawsuit. That letter included an excerpt of a flight log showing former President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Chris Tucker on board Epstein’s Boeing 727.
That now widely-reported 2002 trip to Africa in connection with the Clinton Foundation resulted in the publicity-shy Epstein getting significant scrutiny from the press for the first time. Following Epstein's arrest last July, a spokesman for Clinton said the former president "knows nothing" about Epstein's crimes. Clinton claims he cut ties with Epstein prior to reports of his alleged criminal behavior coming to light in 2006.
Bryant also alleges in her lawsuit that Epstein continued trying to contact her via email long after she detached herself from him. She claims that as recently as June 2019 - one month before his arrest - that Epstein emailed her asking her to send him nude photos.
In another lawsuit against the estate - filed under the pseudonym Priscilla Doe - attorney Brad Edwards has sought the court's permission to gain entry to Epstein's homes in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands to take measurements, video and photographs in order to "help confirm Doe’s testimony about her abuse and to accurately convey to the jury the appearance of these properties," according to court filings.
Lawyers for the estate have objected to the inspections as unnecessary and currently infeasible due to the pandemic.
"Any relevance of the desired inspection to the substance and merits of the claims as stated in this case is marginal at best," wrote estate attorney Bennett Moskowitz in a response filed with the court.
Document requests from Edwards in the case span seven pages and include 75 categories. Among the records he is seeking are all written and electronic correspondence between Epstein and Prince Andrew, who maintained a long relationship with Epstein and has acknowledged visiting his home in New York even after Epstein served jail time and registered as a sex offender.
The Prince has denied allegations from one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, that he had sex with her on three occasions in 2001.
Edwards is also seeking records of communications and payments relating to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and employee, who Priscilla Doe, Giuffre and others have accused in court filings of facilitating Epstein’s abuse.
Maxwell has denied wrongdoing. She also sued the estate earlier this year for her legal and security costs, contending that Epstein had promised to always support her financially.
McCawley, meanwhile, is demanding a broad view of Epstein’s personal and financial records on behalf of her clients, who she argues in a letter are "entitled to information concerning Epstein’s sex-trafficking conspiracy as a whole, including his abuse of others, his communications with his co-conspirators, and the various ways in which he operated his scheme throughout the years."