Court documents naming Jeffrey Epstein's associates to be unsealed this week: What to know

ByJames Hill and Aaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Monday, January 1, 2024
Federal judge orders to unseal documents naming Epstein's associates
A federal judge has ordered a vast unsealing of court documents that will make public the names of scores of Jeffrey Epstein's associates.

Hundreds of sealed court filings pertaining to the late sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein are set to be made public this week, and several prominent names -- including Britain's Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton -- are expected to appear in the documents.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled earlier this month there was no legal justification for continuing to conceal the ex-president's name and more than 150 names other "John and Jane Does" mentioned in the records. Preska ordered the unsealing to begin after Jan. 1.

The documents stem from a 2015 civil lawsuit centered on allegations that Epstein's one-time paramour, Ghislaine Maxwell, facilitated the sexual abuse of Virginia Giuffre, an alleged trafficking victim. Giuffre also accused Epstein and Maxwell of directing her to have sex with Prince Andrew and several other prominent men. Prince Andrew denied the allegations and claimed he could not recall ever meeting Giuffre. He later settled a lawsuit she filed against him.

Most of the prominent names that appear in the documents are already associated in some way with Epstein; for allegations of wrongdoing, for having worked for Epstein, flown on his planes, or visited his homes. Some were mentioned during Maxwell's criminal trial in 2021. In some instances, the only appearances of the names are in potential witness lists or in proposed terms for searches of electronic records.

While Giuffre's allegations against Prince Andrew, and his denials, have been widely reported around the globe, dozens of the sealed records are expected to contain additional details from "Jane Doe 162," a witness who testified she was with Prince Andrew, Maxwell and Giuffre, then 17, at Epstein's New York mansion. Giuffre has alleged that gathering, in 2001, was one of the occasions she was directed to have sex with Andrew.

Giuffre made no allegations of wrongdoing by Clinton, and there is no indication the sealed records contain evidence of illegal conduct by Clinton. But Giuffre's claim that she met the ex-president on Epstein's private Caribbean island emerged as a contentious issue in the litigation, which was settled in 2017. Maxwell contended Clinton had never been to Little St. James -- as Epstein's island was known -- and assailed Giuffre's claim as a fabrication that shattered her credibility.

Personal flight logs kept by one of Epstein's pilots -- which surfaced in separate lawsuits against Epstein -- showed that Clinton and his entourage had flown extensively on Epstein's jumbo-jet to international destinations such as Paris, Bangkok and Brunei in 2002 and 2003. But none of the available records included the former president on a trip to Epstein's island.

The court documents to be unsealed this week represent the eighth, and likely final, round of unsealing records from the case since the Miami Herald intervened for access to the records in 2018. Previously unsealed items included multiple deposition transcripts of Maxwell and Giuffre, along with sworn, but unproven, allegations that Epstein and Maxwell directed Giuffre to have sex with several well-known men, including former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, the late model scout Jean Luc Brunel, billionaire hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, and others.

Maxwell denied the allegations, as did all of the men identified by Giuffre when their names surfaced.

This batch will involve the names of additional Epstein associates, alleged perpetrators, alleged co-conspirators, alleged victims, witnesses and former Epstein employees. Several of the "Does" mentioned in the documents are now deceased.

Former President Clinton, who ABC News has learned is identified as "Doe 36," is mentioned in more than fifty of the redacted filings, according to court records. Several of those sealed or redacted entries are focused on an effort by Giuffre's lawyers in mid-2016, first reported by ABC News, to subpoena the two-term Democratic president for deposition testimony about his relationship with Epstein.

According to portions of the court record that were not sealed, Giuffre's legal team initiated informal discussions with attorneys for the then-unnamed witness on June 9, 2016. That was a few days after the former president's wife, Hillary Clinton, clinched the Democratic nomination for president.

Representatives for Giuffre did contact the former president's attorneys in 2016 about a potential deposition, a person familiar with the situation told ABC News. Clinton's lawyers responded that his testimony would not be helpful to Giuffre because, the person said, the former president had never been on Epstein's island, as she had claimed.

Maxwell called the move to question Clinton "utter nonsense" and a "transparent ploy by (Giuffre); to increase media exposure for her sensational stories through deposition side-show," her attorney Laura Menninger wrote, according to an unredacted section of a court filing.

Giuffre's legal team, in contrast, described the proposed testimony of Clinton as "highly relevant" and "important to the fundamental claims and defenses" in the case. The request was ultimately denied by U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet, in a redacted ruling in late June 2016.

Giuffre's lawyers pressed the Clinton issue again at a hearing in March 2017, six weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin. According to a publicly available transcript, Giuffre's team was then seeking to preclude Maxwell's side from presenting testimony suggesting that Clinton hadn't been on Epstein's island. Her attorneys argued it would be "inherently unfair" to Giuffre because they had not been permitted to ask the former president if he had ever been to Little St. James, as Epstein's private island estate was known.

"You did not allow us to depose him because you said it was irrelevant," McCawley told Judge Sweet. "So now we're in a position where at trial they want to put forth that information against my client, and I don't have an under-oath statement from that individual saying whether or not he actually was," she added.

Maxwell's attorneys, according to the transcript, told the court Maxwell was prepared to take the stand and testify that Clinton was never on the island.

But because the trial never occurred, Giuffre's motion to exclude testimony about Clinton was left unresolved. More information about the debate over the issue could become public in the documents to be unsealed.

Clinton's name is also expected to be unsealed in filings surrounding separate efforts by Maxwell and Giuffre to compel Epstein to answer questions. The disgraced financier invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination to every inquiry during a September 2016 deposition, as he had done many times before in civil lawsuits against him.

According to a procedure established by Preska, attorneys for each of the "Does" were offered a preview of the court files containing their name before determinations were made about unsealing the records. Each person was afforded an opportunity to argue for keeping the records sealed. Clinton's legal team, after reviewing the excerpts, did not lodge any objections to the publication of the documents, according to Preska's order last month.

A spokesperson for Clinton declined to comment for this story.

Clinton's association with Epstein was first noted publicly in 2002, after reporters learned of the former president's journey that year on the mysterious multi-millionaire's jet for a humanitarian mission to multiple African nations. Clinton told New York magazine through a spokesman at the time that "Jeffrey is both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science."

"I especially appreciated his insights and generosity during the recent trip to Africa to work on democratization, empowering the poor, citizen service, and combating HIV/AIDS," the statement said.

Clinton's representatives have said the former president cut off contact with Epstein in 2005, before the financier came under investigation in Palm Beach, Florida, for allegedly luring underage girls to his seaside mansion for illicit, sexualized massages.

When Epstein first faced potential federal prosecution a few years later, one of the disgraced financier's lawyers wrote to prosecutors to tout Epstein's pedigree as "part of the original group that conceived of the Clinton Global Initiative," according to a 2007 letter attached to a court filing several years later.

Following Epstein's arrest for child sex trafficking in 2019, a spokesperson for Clinton, Angel Ureña, said in a statement that the former president "knows nothing" about Epstein's crimes. "He's not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade," the statement added, "and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein's ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida."

Subsequent reporting after Epstein's death has revealed that Epstein and Maxwell attended a 1993 reception for donors to the non-profit White House Historical Association. The smiling pair are seen greeting the president at the White House in photos unearthed from the archives of the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas.

Giuffre, now a 40-year-old mother living in Australia, filed the action against Maxwell in September 2015, alleging that the former British socialite defamed her when her publicist issued a statement referring to Giuffre's allegations as "obvious lies."

A substantial portion of the filings in the case were originally placed under seal or with heavy redactions under sweeping court orders intended to shield the identities of alleged victims, people not accused of wrongdoing, and "absent third-parties" facing allegations that could "implicate and potentially irreparably intrude on the privacy of individuals not present" before the court.

The morning after the first set of documents was unsealed by a federal appeals court in 2019, Epstein died by hanging in his jail cell in Manhattan, where he was being held pending trial on charges of child sex-trafficking and conspiracy. The New York Medical Examiner ruled the death a suicide and a Justice Department Inspector General report concurred with that determination.

Maxwell was convicted in 2021 on five of six counts related to the abuse and trafficking of underage girls. After the verdict, Maxwell's attorneys cited her connection to former President Clinton's charitable work as part of her effort for a reduced sentence, including a claim of "helping develop the Clinton Global Initiative," according to a sentencing memo filed with the court.

Maxwell was sentenced to a 20-year prison term. She is appealing her conviction.