While the accusers in billionaire investor and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's latest indictment have not been publicly identified, over the years some of them, many of whom are now in their late 20s or 30s, have spoken out about their experiences.
"I was young, I was scared, I knew these people were powerful," Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who was 16 when Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly recruited and groomed her for sexual slavery, told the Miami Herald in 2018 as part of the newspaper's massive investigation of Epstein's misconduct. "I didn't know what would happen if I said ‘no.’ I didn't know what would happen if I reported them. That 16-year-old girl just let it happen."
Epstein pleaded not guilty to two charges of sex trafficking minors in a Manhattan federal court on Monday. The indictment comes over a decade after the financier reached a suspiciously lenient plea deal with then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta's office after facing similar charges, which a Florida federal judge later ruled was a violation of the survivor’ rights.
Giuffre had been working at Mar-a-Lago when Maxwell recruited her to be a masseuse for Epstein, and claims she was forced to have sex with his prominent associates, including attorney Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew, Duke of York. (Dershowitz and Prince Andrew have both denied Giuffre’s allegations.) She said she was sent to Little Saint James, Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she alleges she participated in orgies with older men while underage.
"Before you know it, I'm being lent out to politicians and to academics and...royalty and people that you just, you would never think, 'How did you get into that position of power in the first place?'" Giuffre said.
You beat yourself up mentally and physically. You can't ever stop your thoughts.
Courtney Wild, another survivor, said she met Epstein in 2002 when she was 14 and reportedly still had braces on her teeth. Like he did with many of the accusers, he first asked her to give him a massage in exchange for cash. Wild, who later helped recruit other girls for Epstein, said he liked girls who looked like her — white, very young, slender, and easy to manipulate.
"He told me he wanted them as young as I could find them," Wild told the Miami Herald in 2018. "If I had a girl to bring him at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then that’s how many times I would go a day. He wanted as many girls as I could get him. It was never enough."
She said he preyed on girls who were homeless or otherwise vulnerable. "He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right," she said. "As soon as [the original plea deal] was signed, they silenced my voice and the voices of all of Jeffrey Epstein’s other victims. This case is about justice, not just for us, but for other victims who aren’t Olympic stars or Hollywood stars."
Wild later developed a drug addiction and served time in prison on drug charges. "Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band, and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School," according to the Miami Herald. "After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict, and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle."
Other women are still living with the emotional scars of having been abused. "You beat yourself up mentally and physically," Jena-Lisa Jones, who said Epstein abused her when she was 14, told the Miami Herald in 2018. When she was introduced to Epstein, she was reportedly paid $200 to give him a massage. He then told her to take off her clothes and fondled her. "You can't ever stop your thoughts. A word can trigger something. For me, it is the word 'pure' because he called me 'pure' in that room and then I remember what he did to me in that room."
Still, for some of the survivors, there is a sense of relief.
Sarah Ransome claims Epstein sex-trafficked her in 2006 and 2007 and that, like Giuffre, she was also forced to have sex with Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz (which he has denied). "The news of my abuser's arrest today is a step in the right direction to finally hold Epstein accountable for his crimes and restore my faith that power and money can't triumph over justice," Ransome told CBS News.
Wild and Michelle Licata, another accuser of Epstein, were in the courtroom on Monday during Epstein's arraignment hearing. Licata told Good Morning America that she cried when she saw the financier appear in court.
"I don't think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did," Licata told the Miami Herald in 2018. "He ruined my life and a lot of girls' lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn't prosecuted, so it never happens again."