“Before Epstein, I was . . . I was . . . something else,” says a sexual abuse survivor of the deceased and disgraced billionaire financier, Jeffrey Epstein, in the recently released heart-wrenching Netflix docu-series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. At this point, she unable to speak directly to the camera as tears roll down her face. “The way I saw myself a long time ago was like this flower, a flower that was opening up. And afterwards, it was like somebody just picked up that flower, plucked it from its roots, and stomped on it and smashed it.”
Jeffrey Epstein had been the subject of rigorous investigations that sprawled over more than two decades and involved accusations of him sexually abusing as well as molesting young teen girls. After derailing numerous investigations, somehow influencing the officials involved, and getting away with just minor punishments, Epstein was finally arrested in July 2019 on federal charges of trafficking minors in Florida and New York. But Epstein, a man who was always smug and beyond confident during his hearings, committed suicide in his jail cell on 10th August 2019.
For years, the survivors strived to get justice while battling legal suits and the constant threats from a powerful mogul like Jeffrey Epstein. And his death, following which all criminal charges against him were dismissed, effectively robbed them of the chance to finally find the closure that had been denied to them for years.
Directed by Lisa Bryant, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich works as the platform for all survivors who still live with the memory of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Epstein and his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.
The four-part docu-series does not shy away from sharing the stories of those women who lived their lives in fear of a man too powerful for them to wage a fight against. How Epstein just didn’t pick underage girls but also researched about their backgrounds- some came from a poor family, some had been sexually abused in the past- and used it as a manipulation tool to bent their free will. How them raising their voice against the horror that they were subjected to didn’t make a dent against a man so well connected that they never heard from the FBI and police officials.
And when a case did pick up, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich shows how Epstein’s giant team of the best lawyers in Florida, tore apart their lives and demeaned their existence to ensure that their statements held no traction in a court. And we are talking about a hundred or more victims here of which only two-three got a modicum of justice for all the crimes Epstein committed- the millionaire financier sexually abused women and underage girls for decades, he trafficked minors to other influential businessman, politicians, and to some of the world’s most powerful men.
Many of those interviewed in Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, apart from the survivors, describe Epstein as a charismatic manipulator who had a certain sway over even the most powerful people. But he got away with things being charming can’t help in- was it money then? His powerful connections? Or he had something more disturbing going on? But in the absence of a proper explanation, we are left to make peace with the usual assumption that those who are rich and powerful are untouchable.