Jeffrey Epstein’s estate has agreed to pay the US Virgin Islands more than $105 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he used the territory as the base of a sprawling sex-trafficking operation.
The lawsuit settles nearly three years after Denise N. George, the US territory’s attorney general, sued Epstein, a New York financier who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
«This agreement restores the faith of the people of the Virgin Islands that their laws will be enforced, without fear or favor, against those who violate them,» George said in a statement Wednesday. «We are sending a clear message that the Virgin Islands will not serve as a haven for human trafficking.»
Daniel Weiner, an attorney for the estate, said the settlement does not include any admission of liability or fault and that the co-executors deny any allegations of wrongdoing.
«The co-executors ultimately concluded that the settlement is in the best interest of the estate, including its creditors and plaintiffs, to avoid the time, expense and uncertainties inherent in lengthy litigation,» Weiner said. «The settlement is consistent with the co-executors’ stated intent and practice since their appointments to those roles: to resolve claims related to any wrongdoing by Jeffrey Epstein in a manner that is sensitive to those who suffered harm.»
Under the terms of the agreement, Epstein’s estate will pay the Virgin Islands $105 million in cash, as well as half of the proceeds from the sale of Little Saint James, one of two private islands owned by Epstein, the office said. George in a statement. The estate has also agreed to pay $450,000 to repair environmental damage around Great Saint James, the other island owned by Epstein.
The lawsuit, filed in January 2020, alleges Epstein created a network of companies and conspired with others to help him carry out and conceal the alleged sex trafficking scheme. The so-called Epstein Enterprise transported dozens of women and girls as young as 12 to its property in Little Saint James, where they were forced to engage in sexual acts, according to the lawsuit.
«Epstein engaged in a pattern and practice of trafficking and abuse of young women and girls on this private and secluded island of Little St. James, where Epstein and his associates were able to prevent Virgin Island and federal law enforcement from detecting his illegal activity and prevent these young women and underage girls from freely coming out and escaping abuse,» the lawsuit says.
Epstein, who was found hanged at the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center in August 2019, was previously indicted by New York prosecutors on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He faced up to 45 years in prison if he was found guilty.
Prosecutors in that case said Epstein, who was 66 at the time of his death, sexually abused dozens of underage girls at his properties in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. He was also accused of paying many of his victims to recruit others, allowing him to build a vast network of women to exploit.
Epstein bought Little Saint James, across from St. Thomas, for $7.95 million in 1998, NBC News reported. He went on to build a sprawling property with a 24,000-square-foot private residence, two pools, a spa and a blue-striped structure that drew intense scrutiny online.