Opinion| ICYMI| Since Jeffrey Epstein was taken into custody on July 6 and slapped with child sex trafficking charges, the press has been working overtime to try and figure out exactly what happened the billionaire’s private 70 acre Caribbean Island, Little St. James.
According to Vanity Fair, in nearby “St. Thomas, locals say Epstein continued to bring underage girls to the island as recently as this year—a decade after he was forced to register as a convicted sex offender—and that authorities did nothing to stop him. Two employees who worked at the local airstrip on St. Thomas tell Vanity Fair that they witnessed Epstein boarding his private plane on multiple occasions in the company of girls who appeared to be under the age of consent. According to the employees, the girls arrived with Epstein aboard one of his two Gulfstream jets. Between January 2018 and June 2019, previously published flight records show, the jets were airborne at least one out of every three days. They stopped all over the world, sometimes for only a few hours at a time: Paris, London, Slovakia, Mexico, Morocco. When they left St. Thomas, the employees say, they returned to airports near Epstein’s homes in Palm Beach and New York City.”
“On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children—female children,” a former air traffic controller for the airstrip stated. “One incident in particular really stands out in my mind, because the girls were just so young. They couldn’t have been over 16. Epstein looked very angry and hurled his jacket at one of them. They were also carrying shopping bags from stores not on the island. I remember thinking, ‘Where in the world have they been shopping?’”
Another airstrip employee who also asked to remain anonymous, as he is not supposed to talk about passengers, stated that the billionaire would take trips to St. Thomas on average two times a month.
The airstrip employee stated, “There’d be girls that look like they could be in high school. They looked very young. They were always wearing college sweatshirts. It seemed like camouflage, that’s the best way to put it.” Epstein would be dressed in a tracksuit, but the girls carried shopping bags from designer labels: Gucci, Dior.
The employee explained that he and his coworkers often joked about what they saw. “Every time he landed or took off, it was always brought up. We’d always be joking, ‘How many kids are on board this time?’” But the employee also says he felt “pure disgust,” calling it “absolutely insane” that a convicted sex offender was able to move around so openly in the era of MeToo.
Vanity Fair reports:
Epstein apparently made no attempt to hide his travels with young girls. The airstrip in St. Thomas sits in plain sight of a central highway, and a nearby parking lot at the University of the Virgin Islands provides a complete view of the tarmac and almost every aircraft on the ground. When he’s “home” on Little St. James, Epstein’s plane is always parked right in front of the control tower.
“The fact that young girls were getting out of his helicopter and getting into his plane, it was like he was flaunting it,” the employee says. “But it was said that he always tipped really well, so everyone overlooked it.”
In fact, it appears that local authorities did nothing to investigate Epstein’s repeated trips with young girls—let alone intervene—despite the fact that he was listed on the island’s registry of sex offenders. Chief William Harvey, a veteran of the Virgin Islands police department, tells Vanity Fair that he does not know who Epstein is, and is unaware of any investigation into him. Sammuel Sanes, a former senator for the Virgin Islands, says he is unaware of any special precautions taken by law enforcement to track the arrivals and departures of Epstein’s jet on St. Thomas, or the movements of his helicopter to and from his private island.
Lawyers for Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges of sex trafficking, say he “flatly denies any illegal involvement with underage women.” But those on the island who witnessed Epstein in action remain shocked that a convicted pedophile could brazenly continue to travel to and from the United States accompanied by young girls.
“My colleagues and I definitely talked about how we didn’t understand how this guy was still allowed to be around children,” says the former air traffic controller. “We didn’t say anything because we figured law enforcement was doing their job. I have to say that that is regrettable, but we really didn’t even know who to tell, or if anyone really cared.”
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