Sunday, July 07, 2019

On Privilege As Initially Defined: Jeffrey Epstein And Private Law

The billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested yesterday on sex trafficking charges involving minors:

Epstein has been arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors between 2002 and 2005 while residing in New York and Florida, according to a story broken by The Daily Beast and confirmed by CNN. The new indictment reportedly accuses Epstein of paying underage girls in cash for "massages" in order to molest or otherwise sexually abuse them at his residences in either the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in a wealthy neighborhood of Palm Beach, Florida. The indictment will also reportedly claim that some of Epstein's employees and associates helped him recruit these girls for his abuse — and that many of the sex abuse victims ultimately assisted him in recruiting his future victims.

This is not the first time Epstein has faced similar allegations*.  In 2007 and 2008 he avoided similar federal charges in a plea deal which many have criticized as overly lenient:

Before the plea deal, Mr. Epstein, a former hedge-fund manager, had been friendly with Donald J. Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
He pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution, served 13 months in a county lockup and registered as a sex offender. His jail arrangement allowed him to get out of the Palm Beach County Stockade six days a week to work out of his office.
Well, the deal may have been overly lenient, but it was also just shitty:

The plea deal that protected Mr. Epstein from federal charges was signed by the top federal prosecutor in Miami at the time, Alexander Acosta, who is now President Trump’s labor secretary.
In February, a judge in Florida ruled that the prosecutors led by Mr. Acosta violated federal law when they failed to disclose Mr. Epstein’s nonprosecution agreement to his victims.
The agreement was negotiated in secret while victims were told prosecutors were still pursuing a possible federal criminal case.

Scan through the last two quotes above, and you do get the feeling that the law for some people is, indeed, in a very concrete sense a private law, which is one of the original meanings of "privilege:"  

The unwashed masses have one law, the rich and powerful and their tribal associates have a different one.

And why not, in their own minds?  After all, they have the right to have the best cars, wines, houses and caviar.  They get to fly in private jets.  They never have to stand in line.  Why shouldn't they have access to the bodies they most desire for sexual purposes, even if the law for the hoi polloi regards that access as illegal?

To be crystal-clear, the above paragraph is my attempt to enter the mind of someone like Jeffrey Epstein.  It is NOT what I believe, of course.  In particular, there's an enormous moral and ethical difference between cars, houses, wines and caviar on the one hand and the bodies of young and very vulnerable** girls and women on the other hand.

*  For even earlier hints about all this, see this article.   Or Google Epstein's name and "parties." The problem, of course, is that until cases are brought to court (or good third-party evidenced is presented) all the hints must be treated as mere rumors by those of us who are on the outside of the judicial system.

** The NYT article:

One of the victims, Courtney Wild, now 31, was wearing braces when she first met Mr. Epstein. “Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless,” Ms. Wild told The Herald. “He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right.”