Like most sexual predators, Jeffrey Epstein had mastered the way to pick someone who was in need of something. He identified teenage girls, because they would either hide their assault out of fear and shame or were in need of money, were previously abused or they were vulnerable.
The Netflix series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich is a plain, in your face documentary with shared experiences of survivors who were repeatedly abused and taken advance of because of their circumstances. What Epstein did to women was brutal. Like most assaults, this reeked of power, money and connections. And this series minces no words through straight-speaking storytelling.
He had a great way of normalising the abuse going on. I didn’t see my life getting any better so I stayed.
A survivor’s story went like this.
“My mom used drugs pretty heavily. My father went to prison when I was three… A week or so after my 12th birthday, my dad and his girlfriend beat her 8-year-old son to death. I ran away from my home. At 14 I met Epstein. I didn’t know what would happen. I just went over with a friend.”
Epstein’s modus operandi involved inviting these girls to his place to give him a massage for 200 dollars and coerce them into sex and turn this into a pyramid scheme of peddling underage women to the mighty and powerful.
Some women thought this would be an escape route from harrowed families and for others, it was a source of money they desperately needed. For a few this is ‘as important’ as they could get, hanging out with people they saw only on TV. But none denied, they felt sick about how this played out. “He had a great way of normalising the abuse going on. I didn’t see my life getting any better so I stayed,” said one survivor who also sourced women for Epstein.
The four-part series is a revelation of how he carried out factory-scale abuse in the richest neighbourhood in the United States.
There are no new revelations in this series but put together, it a remarkable reminder of how a powerful Epstein played the system. The collective stories of the survivors shock one’s imagination and lead us to question – why it took so long for the Epstein story to emerge when investigations went live in 2005? The four-part series is a revelation of how he carried out factory-scale abuse in the richest neighbourhood in United States, the nexus of power-money-sex and most of all how a ‘system’ prevented survivor stories from emerging.
Through agonising episodes, the series based on a book by James Patterson will seed anger inside of you as you discover what lengths Epstein went to keep this engine running.
The series, directed by Lisa Bryant, makes you shift in your sofa constantly and it should. It’s a reminder of how often the rich and powerful exploit and how even more often, we and our systems fail to protect survivors and justice seekers. A must watch. For we must know how this plays out. Because there isn’t just one Epstein out there.