Bingeworthy? “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich”

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A lawyer for some of the survivors of Jeffrey Epstein uses the perfect phrase to describe what this pedophilia and sex trafficking ring really was.

“It was a molestation pyramid scheme,” attorney Brad Edwards says, noting the way “recruiters” working for Epstein would bring under-age girls into his orbit, the way those girls were encouraged to lure siblings and friends in after them.

Take every wild sexual conspiracy theory spun out of the Internet, every “Pizzagate” pushed by the Lunatic Right, every whisper from “pedophiles are running wild in Hollywood and elsewhere” from crazydaysandnights.net, that’s the stuff of “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” the new Netflix docu-series put together by acclaimed documentarian Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost,” “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”) and crime novelist James Patterson.

In four episodes that range from enraging to heartbreaking, we get to hear from victims, from appalled law enforcement complaining of compromised prosecutors, from business associates and ex-employees of the super-rich pedophile infamous for his “Orgy Island/Pedophile Island” in the Caribbean.

The criminal pattern of luring and entrapment is laid out, and repeated scores of times in dozens of stories, failures of journalism and “the system” to expose Epstein, the excesses of his ill-gotten wealth and the tentacles of his political connections, all here.

The installments, titled “Hunting Ground,””Follow the Money,” “The Island” and “Finding Their Voice,” sometimes repeat themselves. Each starts with Epstein’s bored, defiant voice being deposed by Edwards (mostly), dodging questions via assorted amendments, a man outed but not-yet-trapped and stopped.
The predator’s MO, assisted by his un-prosecuted accomplice, “recruiter” and “girlfriend” and sometime participant in sexual misconduct Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced media baron Robert Maxwell, was to identify cute-to-pretty girls with traits that gave away their insecurities, and exploit them to draw them into this world of extravagant wealth and perverts.
It’s hard to find heroes and heroines in this piece, as almost nobody comes off as wearing a white hat.
Local Florida prosecutor Barry Krischer avoided pressing cases brought to him by local police. South Florida’s Federal prosecutor, Alex Acosta, made a secret deal to get Epstein out of prison, which came back to haunt him during a brief tenure as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor. Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter caved in to Epstein intimidation that may have included surveillance, threats and a severed cats head left in his garden, way back in the ’90s.
Celebrity lawyer, academic, Epstein defender and Fox News legal analyst Alan Dershowitz defiantly denies the accusations leveled at him by one survivor, Britain’s Prince Andrew failed to brush off his Epstein connections and Bill Clinton — while never accused by any victim — was identified as one of the visitors to Epstein’s private 75 acre island off St. Thomas — Little St. James — the “Pedophile Island” accusers talk about, a visit Clinton denies (not on camera).
Producer Patterson was Epstein’s Palm Beach neighbor, and is here to set up that part of the story, the “stunningly rich” and “insular” world Epstein lied and cheated his way into — the estate he owned with another of his infamous “massage rooms” where he sexually assaulted young women and girls.

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We’ve heard so much of this in the breathless news coverage of this scandal, this “trafficking” network, the rich and powerful benefactors and pals (Trump, Ohio clothing mogul Les Wexner who owned The Limited and associated chains) that there’s not much in “Filthy Rich” that still has the capacity to shock.

But hearing from survivor after survivor, girls as young as 14 molested by Epstein and those wealthy friend-clients he procured them for, is powerful and moving. Some girls came from affluence, many did not. The absence of parents speaking up for them in the series underscores the care with which Maxwell and other Epstein acolytes chose their prey.

All the survivors bear the scars of this experience, some more openly than others.

Their exploitation and abuse may not have ended up with their day in court, as Epstein’s suspicious “suicide” in the custody of William Barr’s corrupt and compromised Justice Department robbed them of that. But Berlinger & Co. give them a platform here in a series that, if nothing else, should re-open investigations of Maxwell and others, and renew efforts to further expose this cruelest of exploitations by the rich, the royal and the well-connected.

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MPAA Rating: TV-MA, frank sexual subject matter, discussed, not shown’

Cast: Maria Farmer, Haley Robson, Courtney Wild, Sarah Ransome, Michelle Licata, Shawn Rivera, Michael Reitter, Alan Dershowitz and James Patterson.

Credits: Directed by Joe Berlinger, produced by Berlinger and James Patterson.

Running time: Four episodes @53:00 each.

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