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Where is Jeffrey Epstein's island — and what reportedly happened on Little St. James?

Inside the newly released Epstein documents
Explaining the newly released Epstein documents 05:30

Court documents unsealed this week revealed dozens of people with a wide variety of connections to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender. The names in the documents include accusers of Epstein, staff members and business associates, many of whom gave depositions about Epstein, who over many years allegedly exploited underage girls for sex at his homes in Manhattan; Palm Beach, Florida; and his private island near St. Thomas. Being named in the court documents is not an indication of wrongdoing.

Where exactly is Little St. James, Epstein's private island, and what did he do there?

Where is Epstein's island?

Called Little St. James, Epstein's 72-acre island included several villas and is about 2 miles off the coast of St. Thomas, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Epstein had stakes in businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including Hyperion Air.

A boat with the letters LSJ was used to ferry staff members and supplies to Little St. James, a harbor employee told CBS News in 2020.

While Epstein made donations to U.S. Virgin Islands government officials and schools, some said he still did not have the best reputation in the area.

U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George told CBS News in 2020 that she did not "think he was regarded as an upstanding member of the community." 

"It was public knowledge that he was a registered sex offender," she said.

Jeffrey Epstein's former home on the island of Little St. James in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

What allegedly happened on the island?

In 2019, Epstein died in a New York prison after being charged by federal prosecutors of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking with underage girls. He had pleaded not guilty and his death in prison before facing trial was ruled a suicide.

George became attorney general after Epstein's death and her office sued his estate, ultimately garnering a $105 million settlement on behalf of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

George said the island was a place for Epstein to hide his criminal activity and when asked in 2020 why she was pursuing a lawsuit after his death, she answered: "Why not now?"

"I cannot speak to what happened in the past," she said. "What I do know is that because of Epstein's wealth and power he was able to conceal a lot of this."

Epstein would fly into St. Thomas on a private jet, which "helps with the concealment," George said. From there, he would use two helicopters from Hyperion Air "to transport young women and underage girls between St. Thomas and Little St. James," according to George's lawsuit.

What did witnesses say about Little St. James?

Some air traffic controllers and other airport personnel reported seeing Epstein with girls who appeared they might be preteen, according to the complaint. 

When he was alive, authorities were stopped at the dock and told they could not enter the private property, George said.

"Remember, he owns a whole island," she said. "So it wasn't a situation where a child or a young woman would be able to just break away and run down the street to the nearest police station."

Jeffrey Epstein's Private Island In The Caribbean Has Gone Quiet
A private property sign is displayed on Little St. James Island, owned by fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. This is where Epstein - convicted of sex crimes a decade ago in Florida and now charged in New York with trafficking girls as young as 14 - repaired, his escape from the toil of cultivating the rich and powerful.  Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One 15-year-old alleged victim, however, tried to escape Little St. James by swimming, according to the lawsuit.

An alleged victim who spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity said Epstein brought her St. Thomas and raped her in his office there. "He also trapped me in his bedroom on the island where he had a gun strapped to his bedpost. I couldn't leave. The only means of getting off the island was either helicopter or boat."

What was revealed about Epstein's alleged crimes?

Before he faced sex trafficking charges in 2019, Epstein cut a deal with prosecutors in 2008 after pleading guilty to two state charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor in Florida. 

Under the non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and served 13 months in jail – spending most of that time on work release – and paid settlements to victims. He also had to register as a sex offender. 

News of the deal reached the U.S. Virgin islands, and charter boat Captain Jim Query told CBS News in 2020 there was talk that Epstein had "gotten some crazy sweetheart deal."

FBI agents and police arrive by boat to the private island owned by Jeffrey Epstein.  Salty Dog Day Sails

"We were always just told it was a super short sentence and maybe some time of house arrest," Query said. "I never knew if that was true on the island – but that there was basically little to no penalty."

Some people have even referred to Little St. James as "Pedophile Island."

The documents released this week do not contain an actual list of Epstein associates, just names of people connected to the case in some way. However, the flight logs of Epstein's private jet, called "Lolita Express," and other documents have been made public in the past. The plane was often used to fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many of those who had ties to Epstein have denied any misconduct or involvement in his activities.

FBI agents and police on golf carts heading to Jeffrey Epstein's estate in U.S. Virgin Islands on August 12, 2019.  Courtesy: Salty Dog Day Sails

What happened to Epstein's island?

In May, Forbes first reported billionaire Stephen Deckoff bought Little St. James and neighboring 160-acre Great St. James, both formerly owned by Epstein, for $60 million. Multiple villas, pools and a helipad sit on the islands.

Deckoff, founder of private equity firm Black Diamond Capital Management, plans to develop a "state-of-the-art, five-star, world-class luxury 25-room resort" on the islands to open in 2025, according to a news release about the acquisition.

Jeffrey Epstein's Private Island In The Caribbean Has Gone Quiet
A building stands on top of a hill on Little St. James Island, owned by fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.  Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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