It has been 12 months since Jeffrey Epstein took his life in a New York prison cell, awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
His death has created more questions than answers – for one, did he really take his own life, or was it a cleverly designed murder, orchestrated by the powerful who were most at risk of Epstein’s prosecution?
There’s also what’s called the ‘sweetheart deal’ of 2008, which allowed Epstein to walk away from serious criminal sex trafficking claims with just a short stint in jail.
Part of this deal includes allegations of a network of secret co-conspirators, who still remain anonymous.
Epstein’s death was officially ruled suicide, shortly after his passing on August 10, 2019.
His former partner Ghislaine Maxwell waits for trial on similar charges, in a prison less than 20 kilometres from where Epstein died – she fears she’ll be killed before she makes it to the courtroom.
As the case against Ms Maxwell mounts, we learn more and more about the dastardly acts Epstein is said to have committed – farming out young women to his high-profile friends, bringing girls under his spell and making them do his bidding, jetsetting to isolated islands where the laws don’t apply if you know the right price to pay.
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The rich, the famous and the royal have been linked to Epstein.
In the UK, Prince Andrew has all but lost his title over his friendship with the financier.
Former US president Bill Clinton is fighting tooth and nail to keep his distance.
Current President Donald Trump is being forced to backflip on his comments about Epstein’s character on an almost weekly basis.
The conspiracy surrounding Epstein’s death goes, he was killed for his silence.
Him going down on these charges ran the risk of too many big names being exposed for their involvement in what’s been called a highly sophisticated pedophile ring. And so he was taken out.
At least, that’s the conspiracy – as far as The New Daily is concerned, the coroner’s ruling of suicide stands.
The backroom deal to end all deals
Despite one year, countless articles and several documentaries passing, there’s still one big mystery that lends itself to these kinds of conspiracy theories.
It can be traced back to 2008, when Epstein was jailed for soliciting prostitution.
He was 54 at the time; initially accused of being the puppet master of a network of girls (some underage) who he varyingly paid to massage him and his friends, at his Palm Beach home.
Some of these girls would be molested during these sessions.
Others he’d draw into his web, and use them as recruiters to again lure more young girls.
The exact number of girls who crossed the threshold of the infamous Florida home is unknown, but police gathered the evidence of three dozen girls.
A weighty investigation by the Miami Herald, which was published just days before his arrest last year, identified some 80 victims.
The case against him carried the possibility of a lifetime in jail. It wasn’t just a minor misdemeanour.
The Herald’s investigation pored over a decade of documents, some of which had never been seen by eyes outside the prosecution system.
Above all, it brought to light a very, very sweet plea deal, the heavy ramifications of which are still in play today.
Taking the fall
Whether it be through the wealthy financier’s connections, a fast-talking attorney or something else entirely, Epstein struck a deal that would see him serve just 13 months behind bars for these crimes.
Remember: Crimes that could very well have been prosecuted to total a lifetime behind bars.
Court documents pertaining to a defamation case between Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre and Ms Maxwell, unsealed last week, claim Prince Andrew ferociously lobbied the US government to push through the deal for his friend.
Through the deal, Epstein was convicted on just two charges for soliciting prostitution; the 53 pages of evidence backing his sex trafficking allegations were ignored.
Four women were charged alongside him as accomplices, accused of helping co-ordinate his sordid sex network: Sarah Kellen Vickers, Nadia Marcinkova, Lesley Groff and Adriana Ross.
As the ink on his deal dried, Epstein and his four accomplices were granted immunity from federal prosecution.
Epstein instead would cop the lesser charges, in exchange for providing information to federal investigators, the Herald found.
We still don’t know what that information was.
To say Epstein served time behind bars is generous – instead of a state prison, he was shuttered away in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Jail.
He was given work release privileges for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
This meant he was allowed to leave his cell and work out of an office in West Palm Beach. Six days a week. For 12 hours.
As the Herald pointed out, sex offenders – which is what Epstein was convicted as – do not (usually) qualify for work release in Florida.
The deal gets murkier
As well as immunity for Epstein and his four accomplices, the deal gave immunity to unnamed, unnumbered co-conspirators.
As the Herald put it: “These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.”
The darker part of the deal is that it was kept secret from Epstein’s accusers – a request agreed to by US attorney Alexander Acosta (who was the US labor secretary until he was forced to resign when his involvement in this deal came to light last year).
This final blow meant there was no opportunity for the deal to be challenged before it went through, paving the way for Epstein and co to skirt around what should have been his undoing.
The deal is still in place, and those unnamed, unnumbered co-conspirators remain as such.