Haley Robson and other survivors of the disgraced financier speak out in the new Netflix docuseries Filthy Rich

By Laura Barcella
May 27, 2020 01:23 PM
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Haley Robson
Netflix

The new four-part docuseries Filthy Rich, which premieres today on Netflix, chronicles the years-long trail of abuse of well-connected financier Jeffrey Epstein. But instead of focusing on the disgraced multi-millionaire's story, it gives a much-needed voice to his many accusers.

When Epstein, 66, died by suicide in a New York City prison cell last August, he left behind an exhaustive roster of sexual assault and sex trafficking allegations from girls as young of 14.

Epstein -- a high-profile sex offender who previously served a little over 12 months in a Palm Beach, Fla., county jail -- evaded prosecution for most of his alleged crimes until July 2019, when he was charged with sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. 

Haley Robson, a former teen "recruiter" for Epstein, is one of the women who speaks out in Filthy Rich.

Robson tells PEOPLE she was a "typical" 16-year-old high school student in West Palm Beach when she first met Epstein in 2004. When a classmate told her she could make $200 by giving the older man a massage, Robson agreed to do it, but she ended up rebuffing Epstein's sexual advances during the encounter, she says.

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At his request, Robson says, she began bringing Epstein teen girls after that. He paid her a fee for each one.

Robson, who was herself "coming off a sexual trauma" after being raped at 15 ("that's how I lost my virginity," she says), tells PEOPLE she didn't comprehend what she was getting herself into by agreeing to recruit for Epstein. "You're 16. The repercussions, at that age, you're not thinking about that. You're not mature enough to understand," she admits.

"At that point I was just being … a teenager, thinking, ‘What am I going to do next? Am I going to college? Am I going to move? Am I going to stay here?’”

Robson tells PEOPLE that, though being interviewed for the Netflix docuseries was "very emotional" for her -- it was the first time she has spoken out publicly about her experiences -- she hopes it will "bring a lot more attention to the actual facts, and the things his victims actually went through."

"It's different when you're in the middle of the storm than when you're on the outside looking in," she notes.

Last August, Robson got a text message alerting her to the news that Epstein had died in prison. "It was a Saturday," she recalls to PEOPLE. "I was confused, but I was really happy too, because for the first time I felt like, "Okay, this is it. He's not going to hurt anybody else.'"

Robson also admits to having mixed emotions about Epstein's suicide because of what it meant for his victims, and the reality that they might never see closure: "I felt sad for all of his victims, because not only did he steal a part of all the girls that they're not going to get back, but he did it in such a cowardly way. He didn't want to take responsibility."