The U.S. Virgin Islands has filed a civil lawsuit against the estate of deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein for running a sex trafficking operation at his properties there, Denise N. George, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, announced Wednesday.
The suit alleges that Epstein and unnamed “associates” trafficked underage girls as young as 12 in the territory, where they “held them captive, and sexually abused them, causing them grave physical, mental and emotional injury.”
George said her office began looking into Epstein’s conduct last year after being “inundated with inquiries from local and national media” about his activities in the islands.
Epstein “maintained a deliberately complex web of Virgin Islands corporations, limited liability companies, foundations and other entities, not all of which are yet known to the Government of the Virgin Islands, through which he carried out and concealed his criminal conduct,” according to the suit.
The disgraced money manager, who once boasted a roster of high-profile friends including Britain’s Prince Andrew, had been awaiting trial in a New York prison cell on federal sex trafficking charges when he was found dead on Aug. 10, 2019. The New York City Medical Examiner ruled his death a suicide.
George said Wednesday that the extent of Epstein’s alleged wrongdoing “shocks the conscience.”
The U.S. territory “is not and will not be a safe haven for human trafficking or sexual exploitation,” she stated.
Depending on the outcome of the case, Epstein’s estate could be forced to forfeit all properties allegedly used for his abusive conduct, along with other possible penalties. Additionally, complaints from women who have accused Epstein of abusing them are pending against the estate, which was altered just two days before Epstein’s death to make it harder to divide up his wealth.
George noted that the new lawsuit is “not intended to supplant the claims of victims who were intentionally harmed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates,” but will rather serve as an attempt to hold him to account.
The total value of Epstein’s property and other assets in the Virgin Islands is estimated at $578 million, including $56 million in cash, according to the suit. His fine art and antiques, however, have not yet been assessed for value.
Epstein’s wealth shielded him from facing many repercussions during his lifetime. He owned several large homes ― including a New York City mansion, a ranch in New Mexico and a home in Palm Beach, Florida ― along with a private plane that made it easy for him to transport young women and underage girls for sexual purposes.
He purchased Little St. James in 1998 before adding the nearby Great St. James island in 2016. Locals reportedly referred to Little St. James as “pedophile island.”
George encouraged locals or anyone else with information on Epstein’s conduct to call a hotline: 800-998-7559.
Read the lawsuit below.