Wealthy, influential men face sex charges… again

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Why are these monsters beyond the reach of the law and can enjoy the protection that wealth affords them?

It should not come as any great surprise that Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with abusing girls as young as 14; he’s a serial trafficker of underage girls. He was accused over the weekend of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars to come into his various homes in New York and Florida and give “massages”, between 2002 and 2005.  The 66-year-old hedge fund manager was arrested as he arrived in the US from a trip to Paris. It’s about time.

It appears he also provided the sexual services of his victims to his mates, for fun or for favours, many of whom are in positions of great power. Under the media’s gaze they are now scurrying down their boltholes or looking like deer caught in headlights. Or like rats leaving a sinking ship might be more apt.

Reading more of the details is horrifying. Apparently, hundreds or even thousands of photos of girls were found in his home and now are part of the evidence. In an earlier plea bargain, this monster served just 13 months in jail, with day release, for his admitted crimes to date in what is now being seen as a travesty of justice, facilitated by friends in high places. He has made dozens of financial settlements with victims in the past for soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for sex; chump change for this billionaire. Now, hopefully and finally, he’s facing around 45 years in jail. But don’t hold your breath.

Epstein is enormously rich. His social circle of sleazy friends includes Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and many other unsavoury celebrities in the political, legal and entertainment industries now in the spotlight for their reprehensible behaviour. These new charges will no doubt be an enormous blow to Epstein, and I hope some of his wealthy mates on the so-called “Lolita Express” – his private jet used to ferry influential men to debauched parties with female children – may be feeling decidedly nervous about what revelations are waiting to surface.

But it gets me wondering: why do these types of allegations tend to float around men who are super-rich, lingering about them like a putrid smell? Is it because of their wealth that they feel they are invulnerable? Why do they feel they want to do things that are so far outside the realm of what most of us would consider normal? As an example, who can forget Trump’s obnoxious bragging: ‘I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.’ When the most powerful man on the planet can joke about his crimes with impunity, what hope really exists for the victims, or for change.

Another, more sinister, reason, comes to mind. Perhaps it’s more of a “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. Even a sort of peer pressure. Is there a desire to brag to your friends? The more beautiful women, the younger, the less willing? That you can pay these women to do anything? A naked photo, a massage, then what?  The problem is a 14-year-old girl might be happy to do anything for a few hundred dollars, but then how does she feel about herself when she is older and wiser? She may have made a choice she regrets. The point is as a society we have determined that 14 is too young to make these types of decisions.  Imagine how much damage you may have done to the psyche of this woman as an adult. Do Epstein and his cohorts even care?   Again, I suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting for a mea culpa.

The reality should be that nobody is above the law, no matter how wealthy or famous they are, that they can’t buy off the law. But that isn’t really true. Now Epstein will face the music and his wealth or private jet, we trust, won’t save him any longer, but it will be a tortured accounting that may or may not see this monster jailed. The prosecutors say that these underage girls he ruined deserve to have their day in court and have him answer their questions. The reason why they agreed to going to his house is not relevant. He should never have asked. But it will be necessary for these brave women to confront the best defence that money can buy, and triumph, before much will change. We can only wish them well in that ordeal.  

It’s time this picture of privilege and entitlement being a passport to depravity was changed. Because it’s not defensible to commit these heinous offences and it’s certainly not acceptable bragging about it to your rich mates. It’s cruel and illegal. I am sure the very wealthy have better and more beneficial things to do with their fortunes. If they want a buzz, then at least find an activity that is not harming innocent, vulnerable people in the process. There is no embarrassment to being wealthy, it’s what you do with your fortune that matters.

Like the rest of the sane world, I will follow this story in the hope this disgusting human being and his cronies never cast their evil shadow over civilised society again.