Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender accused of forcing a 17-year-old girl to have sex with his friend Prince Andrew, has struck out at the press in his first formal statement since the reigniting of the scandal around his alleged crimes, the Guardian said.
Epstein, a wealthy former banker, complained in a court filing about what he called “the gossip media”, alleging that attorneys for his accusers were trying to satisfy a “craving for what is sensational or scandalous” among journalists, the report said.
Condemning the “media frenzy” surrounding his case, the filing said that Epstein and several of his associates “have been the subject of the most outlandish and offensive attacks, allegations, and plain inventions”, according to the Guardian.
The 62-year-old was jailed in 2008 for soliciting prostitution from a minor, following an FBI inquiry that identified dozens of victims of alleged underaged sex abuse. One accuser, Virginia Roberts, alleged in a U.S. court last month that she was made to sleep with Andrew when she was 17. Andrew and Buckingham Palace strenuously deny her accusation, the report said.
In a filing to the court in Florida through his lawyers late on Monday, Epstein pleaded with Judge Kenneth Marra to block the release of the thousands of pages in correspondence between Epstein’s legal team and U.S. government prosecutors that led to his plea deal, which has been criticized as overly lenient, the Guardian said.
Roberts’ attorneys have alleged that high-powered allies of Epstein – who counted presidents, politicians and other wealthy celebrities among his friends – may have helped him to secure the agreement, which saw him spend 13 months in jail and promised immunity from prosecution for his “potential co-conspirators”, according to the report.
Arguing that such negotiations are traditionally kept secret, Epstein’s lawyers said in the new filing that he could be “irreparably harmed” if letters and other exchanges were placed in the public record before “making their way around the world on the internet in minutes”, the report said.
Such letters from lawyers “often necessarily involve explicit or implicit admissions regarding their client’s conduct”, Epstein’s attorneys wrote, the Guardian said.
A decision by Judge Marra to allow the letters to be made public could lead lawyers to censor themselves during plea negotiations “to avoid making statements that could later come back to haunt their clients in TMZ, the National Enquirer or the grocery store tabloids”, said Epstein’s attorneys, according to the report.
Buckingham Palace has described Roberts’ allegations as “categorically untrue” and strenuously denied “any form of sexual contact or relationship” between her and Andrew. The Palace added: “The allegations made are false and without any foundation”, the Guardian said.
Epstein won a court ruling last year that general access to the correspondence should be limited to lawyers and court officials. However, Roberts’ attorneys argue that they should be allowed to reference the material in future filings, the report said.
Earlier this month Judge Marra told the former banker that he must set out “the extraordinary circumstances or particularized needs” that meant the correspondence should be kept sealed. “Public policy favors judicial records being open to the public, ” Marra wrote, the Guardian said.