HAVANA (AP) - A lawsuit filed by prosecutors in the Virgin Islands says multimillionaire sex offender Jeffery Epstein used two private islands in the US territory to engage in a almost two-decade conspiracy to traffic and abuse girls. Those victims were then forced to recruit others.
The charges were related to crimes allegedly committed between 2002 and 2005.
In the lawsuit obtained by The New York Times, the documentation states "Epstein clearly used the Virgin Islands and his residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Little Saint James as a way to be able to hide and to be able to expand his activity here".
Epstein's resources - his estate is valued at nearly $600 million - enabled him to skirt scrutiny, according to the suit.
What the lawsuit calls the Epstein Enterprise subjected the US territory "to public portrayals as a hiding place for human trafficking and sex crimes", the complaint says. She authorized the investigation after receiving questions from local and national press about Epstein's activities. "The U.S. Virgin Islands has been injured". Epstein and his associates kept a computerized list of underage girls in or close to the Virgin Islands, the suit says. The trafficking occurred between 2001 and 2019, it says, citing flight logs and airport personnel.
A lawyer for Epstein's estate, which has been seeking to set up a compensation fund to resolve victims' claims, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
In early July this year multi-millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges involving dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14. George enlisted her office's independent investigators and court documents from other cases to allege that Little Saint James was the epicenter of a decades-long sex trafficking scheme.
The complaint said Mr Epstein kept a computerised database to track girls who could be sent to Little St James, which he bought in 1998 as "the flawless hideaway" to traffic them "for sexual servitude, child abuse and sexual assault".
He instead met them at his office on St. Thomas.
The suit, filed on behalf of the US Virgin Islands government and which sues Epstein's estate for damages, sheds new light on the extent of the 66-year-old's alleged criminal behavior.
At one point, the suit filed Wednesday alleges, Epstein and associates organized a search party to catch a 15-year-old victim trying to swim away, and kept her passport to keep her captive.
The filing is frank about the difficulty of unpicking the web of assets through which Epstein conducted his activities.
The lawsuit is the first filed against Epstein's estate by a government and could do a lot to restore the region's tainted reputation as an adult playground with no consequences for the rich and powerful.
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