Alleged Co-Conspirators In Epstein Case Shouldn't Rest Easy, DOJ Says
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The Department of Justice yesterday took action against the jail where accused sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell. Attorney General William Barr ordered the warden at the Metropolitan Correction (ph) Center in New York to be reassigned, and two additional staff members have been placed on leave. Barr also has pledged to pursue Epstein's alleged co-conspirators for possible prosecution.
So how might that investigation move forward? We're going to ask Jessica Roth now. She's a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City and a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. Thank you so much for being with us.
JESSICA ROTH: My pleasure.
MARTIN: As a prosecutor, where would you start in making a case against these alleged co-conspirators?
ROTH: Well, the first place to start is with the testimony of the victims. The victims clearly have been talking to the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, so their testimony is the focus and clearly has been from the beginning - but in addition, other witnesses who would have information about the involvement of Jeffrey Epstein's co-conspirators and accomplices. That would include people like his pilots, who apparently have already been subpoenaed for their testimony about who else was involved in the flights that were part of the sex-trafficking activity.
I would be looking at phone records, bank records, document payments to employees who were involved in the sex trafficking and the testimony of other witnesses who worked for him who would have observed this activity even if they themselves were not personally involved.
MARTIN: But no other co-conspirators were named in the original charges against Epstein. Isn't that right?
ROTH: That's correct. But there were three employees of Epstein's - some in New York and some in Florida - who were described in terms of their role in the conspiracy count of the indictment. So they weren't named with their actual names, but their role in the conspiracy was described in the indictment. And that's important because that means that Mr. Berman, the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, and his prosecutors have already identified those three specific individuals and have enough evidence about their involvement in the conspiracy that they were able to prove up that role to the grand jury that returned the indictment.
MARTIN: Exactly what do we know about their role, though - these alleged co-conspirators? What are they accused of having done?
ROTH: The people who are described in the indictment as co-conspirators are described as employees of Jeffrey Epstein. One of them, for example - Employee-1 is how this person is referred to in the indictment - is described as having placed telephone calls to some of the victims in order to schedule appointments for them to engage in paid sex acts with Epstein. The other individuals are described as employees as well. I believe these two - these other two are based in Florida. And they were in communication with victims to arrange sexual contact between the victims and Epstein.
MARTIN: What about this new law that goes into effect today in New York state? This changes the statute of limitations to give people who are making allegations of sexual misconduct that happened against them when they were young - gives those people more time to file those lawsuits. Does that affect the Epstein investigation?
ROTH: Yes, I believe it will. And in fact, one of the lawyers representing one of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers - Robbie Kaplan is the lawyer - has already indicated in the press earlier this week that she intends to file a lawsuit today pursuant to that new law. And that law would apply to any victims who would be able to bring their suits in New York state courts. And given what has been alleged about the activity that occurred at Jeffrey Epstein's mansion in Manhattan, that would seem to cover a lot of people.
MARTIN: Beyond the federal investigation, what now for the accusers in terms of civil suits?
ROTH: So as we just mentioned, there's the possibility of lawsuits brought in New York. There may be lawsuits brought elsewhere, and those would be civil lawsuits brought by the victims themselves seeking recovery against Jeffrey Epstein's considerable estate.
There's also the possibility of a civil asset forfeiture proceeding brought by the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York against specific assets that were used in connection with the crime. So that could include his mansion. It could include properties in the U.S. Virgin Islands, cars, other things that are specifically tied to his assets. And those could be distributed by the U.S. government to victims.
MARTIN: Jessica Roth, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law. We appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
ROTH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.