A lawsuit filed Wednesday by prosecutors in the Virgin Islands said used two private islands in the U.S. territory to engage in a nearly two-decade conspiracy to traffic and abuse girls. At one point, the suit alleges, Epstein and associates organized a search party to catch a 15-year-old victim trying to swim away, and kept her passport to keep her captive.
The lawsuit seeks to confiscate hundreds of millions of dollars from Epstein's estate in the Virgin Islands, including private islands Little St. James and Great St. James, which the suit values at $86 million.
"The complaint speaks for itself and lays out allegations of a pattern and practice of human trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor of young women and female children as young as 13 years old," Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise N. George told reporters Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges that even after Epstein's August death in federal detention in New York, his associates "continued to conspire to prevent detection of the Epstein Enterprise's criminal wrongdoing and to prevent accountability."
"These conspiratorial acts are ongoing," according to the lawsuit. The trust controlling Epstein's $577 million estate is based in the Virgin Islands.
From 2001 to 2018, Epstein and associatesto the Virgin Islands, then moved them by boat and helicopter to Epstein's property on Little St. James, the suit alleged. Epstein bought the neighboring island to protect his illegal activity from being seen, the lawsuit claimed. The lawsuit said the girls were between 12 and 17, although George said the youngest was 13.
Many were lured with the promise of modeling opportunities, the lawsuit said. Epstein and his associates kept a computerized list of underage girls in or close to the Virgin Islands, according to the the suit.
Although he was required to register as a sex offender in the Virgin Islands after pleading guilty in a Florida case, Epstein successfully turned away Virgin Islands officials and U.S. Marshals from Little St. James, saying its dock was his front door.
He arranged to meet the law enforcement officials at his office on the island of St. Thomas, the lawsuit said.
Along with the 15-year-old girl who tried to swim away, the lawsuit describes a victim who was hired to provide massages, then forced to perform sex acts on Little St. James. She attempted to escape but was caught by a search party and threatened with physical restraint and other harm if she didn't cooperate, the lawsuit said.
"The conduct of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates shocks the conscience and betrays the deepest principles and laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands," George said. "The Virgin Islands is not, and will not, be a safe haven for human trafficking or sexual exploitation."