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Thursday, July 22, 2010

That which saved him from a long prison term

Film director Roman Polanski is not the only convicted pedophile to walk free this month and return to a life of privilege. On Wednesday, hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein completes his one-year house arrest in Palm Beach, which has been even less arduous than Polanski’s time at a Swiss ski chalet.

During Epstein’s term of “house arrest,” he made several trips each month to his New York home and his private Caribbean island. In the earlier stage of his sentence for soliciting prostitution with a minor—13 months in the Palm Beach Stockade—he was allowed out to his office each day. Meanwhile, Epstein has settled more than a dozen lawsuits brought by the underage girls who were recruited to perform “massages” at his Palm Beach mansion. Seven victims reached a last-minute deal last week, days before a scheduled trial; each received well over $1 million—an amount that will hardly dent Epstein’s $2 billion net worth.

With that, the known victims of Epstein’s sexual compulsion have been officially silenced, and the case against him is closed unless new ones come forward. According to banking sources, he has been moving assets out of the U.S. and may well follow Polanski into a luxurious exile.

Watch Jeffrey Epstein Storm Out of a Deposition When Asked About His Penis

But the question remains: Did Epstein’s wealth and social connections—former President Bill Clinton; Prince Andrew; former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers were just a few of the prominent passengers on his private jets—allow him to receive only a slap on the wrist for crimes that carry a mandatory 20-year sentence? Was he able, with his limitless assets and heavy-hitting lawyers—Alan Dershowitz, Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, Kenneth Starr, Guy Lewis, and Martin Weinberger among them—to escape equal justice?

Michael Reiter, the former Palm Beach police chief, certainly thinks so. He gave The Daily Beast exclusive access to the transcript of his nine-hour deposition for the victims’ civil suits, in which he explained how the case against Epstein was minimized by the State Attorney’s Office, then bargained down by the U.S. Department of Justice, all in an atmosphere of hardball legal tactics and social pressures so intense that Reiter became estranged from several colleagues. At the time, Reiter, who retired in 2009 and now runs his own security firm, objected both to Epstein’s plea agreement and to the flexible terms of his incarceration in the county jail rather than state prison. Asked during the deposition whether he thought Epstein received special treatment, he answered “yes.”

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