Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t a terribly woke guy. A billionaire who bragged about his celeb pals, including two presidents and a prince, with a harem full of mostly underage girls, he was described as a paedophile who pimped for the elite. Vulgarly flaunting his cash and connections, tall with all that silver hair, dripping with girls, girls, girls, he was the poster boy for all those who opposed the #MeToo movement.
His modus operandi was to send out already procured young girls to procure him more young girls – he was the Monarch of Massage. Then girl after girl spoke out, accusing him of sexual crimes. Investigation was ordered and evidence piled up. And just when it looked like we had him came his hurried death alone in a cell in the dark of early dawn.
Files on him had begun to be made public and sordid details of his chilling dalliances with minors were becoming newspaper fodder. He had just been hospitalised for reportedly trying to kill himself last month. And then.. and then... he was found un-breathing in the New York City jail on August 10. A twist in the salacious tale that no one saw coming. Naturally, conspiracy theories abound.
He died while awaiting trial. Was it suicide, was it murder? If former, wasn’t he conveniently left unsupervised till he finished the job? The disgraced American may or may not have been on suicide watch when the death took place; the possibility of CCTV records too is doubtful. He leaves behind more questions than ever before. Public anger has come up bang against his sudden vanishing trick. Now how will justice be served?
Hence, the need to find a ‘killer’. Who took Epstein away from the gallows? Who got him before the state system could? Was there a staff shortage among the guards? Was Epstein ‘left alone’ for a reason? His death, one has to admit, suits all those who were seen as his friends and perhaps clients. Politicians have been refuting allegations against them. The pic of Prince Andrew with his arm round a teenage girl while Epstein’s so-called girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of late fraudster Robert Maxwell, smiles nearby continues to raise eyebrows. As does US President Trump’s words to
New York magazine in 2002: ‘I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.’
Unlike the child-sex allegations against Michael Jackson, which people were reluctant to believe because of the fandom he generated, when it came to Epstein everyone was disgusted from the start. His famous friends immediately distanced themselves from him.
Framed or guilty, killed or dead by his own hands, at 66, Epstein was hardly too young to die. His victims, on the other hand, were not old enough to defend themselves against him. Whatever their chagrin be at his death affecting their case, as far as any future possible victims are concerned this is the good news – there is one less dirty old man out there.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival. Read Shinie Antony's columns