MANHATTAN (CN) – Shortly before Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in federal prison, a federal court unsealed a vast trove of files implicating heads of state, elected officials and other elite figures in the wealthy financier’s sex-trafficking web. This list could radically expand should the remainder of sealed files become public, a federal judge heard Wednesday.
“There are literally hundreds of pages of investigative reports that mention hundreds of people,” said Jeffrey Pagliuca, an attorney for former Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, at a 30-minute hearing this morning in Manhattan.
A British heiress accused of recruiting sex slaves for Epstein, Maxwell opposes the disclosure of court records from a lawsuit against her filed by one alleged victim, Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre claims that Epstein passed her off to powerful figures, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, financier Glenn Dubin, model scout Jean-Luc Brunel and former Senator George Mitchell. Those men have denied the allegations.
Although Giuffre’s original lawsuit settled years ago with a vast trove of files under seal, the open-records battle it inspired still rages, and an unknown number of other people may still be pulled into the sex-trafficking saga.
During today’s hearing, Pagliuca alluded to an address book that has more than 1,000 names in it, but he did not say whether that was the so-called “black book” containing the contact information of President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, ex-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and others.
Insisting that the sealed files vindicate his client, Dershowitz’s attorney Andrew Celli now claims that his client wants “maximum disclosure at maximum speed.”
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who will decide which files would become public, made clear she was not interested in hearing broad talking points.
“I don’t care,” Preska told Celli.
Preska instead pressed the lawyers on the specific procedures for releasing files “expeditiously.” She appeared frustrated that the attorneys arrived at today’s hearing without any agreement on any files that could be immediately unsealed.
“It sounds like there is some disagreement, your honor,” Giuffre’s attorney Sigrid McCawley told the judge.
“No kidding,” Preska deadpanned.
The day before the hearing, attorneys for an anonymous third party submitted a 7-page letter arguing against throwing new names into what they called a media “frenzy.”
“Unsealing references to non-parties would throw those non-parties into the middle of this frenzy, and unfairly do irreparable harm to their privacy and reputational interests,” attorneys Nicholas Lewin and Paul Krieger wrote for their John Doe client. “Indeed, a vast number of these articles have published unsubstantiated allegations as fact. The careless regurgitation of allegations made under the litigation privilege, and not elsewhere, has the potential to permanently and unjustifiably harm non-parties and their families.”
Since the time of Epstein’s arrest, there have been tens of thousands of news stories written about his case, and more than 230,000 references to his case broadcast on television, the attorneys noted.
Preska ordered the parties to submit written briefings on possible procedures for releasing the files that would gives those named in the documents the opportunity to contest their release.