In the year since Jeffrey Epstein's death, more accusers have come forward with their harrowing stories of survival

By Chris Harris
August 10, 2020 12:14 PM
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Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005
Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty

A year ago today, the world learned that billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide — hanging himself inside a jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, where the registered sex offender was awaiting trial on federal conspiracy and sex trafficking charges.

One year later, the case very much remains in the public consciousness, with the recent arrest of Epstein's longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, and Sunday night's premiere of Lifetime's long-awaited miniseries, Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.

While the criminal case against Epstein was dismissed three weeks after his suicide, which came a little more than a month after his arrest at a New Jersey airport, his alleged victims may receive justice yet, as the case against Maxwell proceeds through the system. Additionally, in the year since Epstein's death, more accusers have come forward with their harrowing stories of survival.

With his alleged crimes still making headlines, here are a few things to know about the Epstein case, including the latest court proceedings and updates on what survivors have said recently about the accused sex offender.

New Hearing Granted

Last week in Atlanta, a federal appeals court approved a motion from alleged victim Courtney Wild to reexamine a decision rendered in April absolving federal prosecutors who've been accused of violating victims' rights mandates by orchestrating a cushy plea deal that spared Epstein prison time – without seeking the input of the women he allegedly abused as minors.

A three-judge panel ruled in April that Epstein's plea deal — which saw him plead guilty to state rather than federal charges – did not violate the 2004 Crime Victims' Rights Act. On Friday, the appeals court vacated that decision, and granted a full rehearing of the case, the Washington Post reports.

In a statement, Wild vowed to "never give up fighting for what is right."

Wild was one of several teenage girls Epstein allegedly molested at his Palm Beach mansion. Investigators have claimed that Epstein would lure teen girls to his home by paying them to massage him. During the massages, Epstein would allegedly assault the teens, forcing them to have sex with him, and offered them money to bring him other underage girls to assault.

Ghislaine Maxwell Allegedly Recruited Teens For Epstein

Maxwell, a British socialite and heiress who is accused of being Epstein's chief enabler, was arrested by the FBI last month at her lavish home in Bedford, New Hampshire. Maxwell has been accused by multiple women of recruiting them when they were underage and grooming them for sex with the financier Epstein and other powerful men.

Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend, has been charged with conspiracy to entice minors to engage in illegal sex acts,  transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sex acts and perjury. She has pleaded not guilty, and remains in custody while awaiting trial, which is likely to start during the summer of 2021.

The indictment against Maxwell, which was obtained by PEOPLE, alleges she "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein, through a variety of means and methods." Detailing three instances between 1994 and 1997, the indictment alleges Maxwell would attempt to befriend the minors.

Accusers Open Up on Lifetime Documentary

Many of Epstein's accusers spoke to Lifetime for Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a four-hour miniseries on the financier's alleged crimes. Virginia Giuffre, who said she was recruited by Maxwell at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago spa, said in one of the first two episodes -- which debuted Sunday night -- that the first time she was abused by Epstein, Maxwell assisted.

"The massage seemed legitimate at first. Ghislaine grabbed one foot, I grabbed the other, and she says, 'You always wanna keep one hand on the body when you're massaging somebody.' And then he turns over and the entire thing changed," recalled Giuffre. They commanded her to undress.

"I had these little girl undies on, like, little hearts on them, I remember, and they were laughing at that because they liked that. The younger you look, the better it is. So I stripped down. Ghislaine stripped down. It turned very sexual. It was abuse right away from both of them."

Prosecutors have not charged Maxwell with assault.

The series revolves around eight of Epstein's alleged victims, and airs Sundays on Lifetime at 8 p.m.

Suicide Still Questioned

Some people reject the notion Epstein ended his life, including Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist who maintains that Epstein's death was murder.

Last October, Baden posited that two bone fractures on the left and right sides of Epstein's larynx, as well as a third fracture on a bone above his Adam's apple, suggests he was strangled.

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"Those three fractures are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation," he said.

He added: "I've not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case."